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Alcohol-Resistant Microbe

August 14, 2018

A disease-causing microbe is becoming resistant to alcohol hand sanitizer.



Bacteria that alcohol can’t kill. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Outbreaks of dangerous staph bacteria resistant to antibiotics have led hospitals to enact strict hygiene rules, including the use of alcohol hand sanitizer. That’s led to a decrease in staph infections. But doctors in Australia noticed that infections from another type of bacteria called enterococci have been rising. In the journal Science Translational Medicine, University of Melbourne microbiologist Tim Stinear and his colleagues report that these bugs have developed mutations that make them alcohol-tolerant.

TIM STINEAR (University of Melbourne and Doherty Institute):

We’ve uncovered the genetic signatures in this paper, but we want to know what’s the impact of those: how do those changes in the DNA of the bacteria actually cause the tolerance?


Understanding that could help them develop countermeasures to control the resistant microbes and prevent similar issues with other germs. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Bob Hirshon