A new study by British researchers suggests standard hospital disinfectants may no longer be enough for preventing the spread of Clostridioides difficile.

In an attempt to better understand the ability of C difficile spores to persist in the hospital and spread to patients, a team led by scientists from the University of Plymouth spiked three different hospital surfaces (surgical gowns, stainless-steel, and vinyl flooring) with different strains of C difficile spores, then cleaned them with a chlorine-based disinfectant recommended by English hospitals for deactivating C difficile spores. After 10 minutes, the spores were still attached to the surfaces, and still viable.

The authors of the study said the results, published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, indicate hospitals may need to re-examine the effectiveness of strategies to prevent transmission of C difficile, a difficult-to-eradicate bacterium that often spreads via contamination of hospital surfaces.

“The spores of the bacteria were able to grow after decontamination,” lead investigator and University of Plymouth microbiologist Tina Joshi, PhD, said in a press release from the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), which publishes the journal. “This shows that spores are becoming resistant and we need to reconsider how we decontaminate and employ hygiene measures in hospitals.”

Spores quickly contaminate surgical gowns

CC BY-SA 3.0 Nick Youngson / Alpha Stock Images

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