Researchers Examine Efficacy of Disinfectants Against Biofilms

Disinfectants are used as primary treatment options against pathogens on surfaces in healthcare facilities to help prevent healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). On many surfaces, pathogenic microorganisms exist as biofilms and form an extracellular matrix that protects them from the antimicrobial effects of disinfectants. Disinfectants are used as all-purpose antimicrobials though very few specifically make biofilm efficacy claims. 

The objective of this study by Lineback, et al. (2018) was to evaluate the efficacy of eight registered disinfectants (six registered by the Environmental Protection Agency and two products registered in by the European Chemical Agency) with general bactericidal claims, but currently no biofilm efficacy claims, against Staphylococcus aureus ATTC-6538 and Pseudomonas aeruginosa ATCC-15442 biofilms. The researchers hypothesized that hydrogen peroxide and sodium hypochlorite disinfectant products would be more effective than quaternary ammonium chlorides.

This study tested the bactericidal efficacy of eight registered disinfectant products against S. aureus ATCC-6538 and P. aeruginosa ATCC-15442 grown on glass coupons using a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) biofilm reactor and EPA MLB SOP MB-19. Bactericidal efficacy was determined after treating coupons with disinfectants following standard EPA MLB SOP MB-20.

Overall, sodium hypochlorite and hydrogen peroxide disinfectants had significantly higher bactericidal efficacies than quaternary ammonium chloride disinfectants. The researchers also found that all tested disinfectants except for quaternary ammonium chloride disinfectants met and exceeded the EPA standard for bactericidal efficacy against biofilms.

In general, the researchers concluded that bactericidal efficacy against biofilms differed by active ingredient. The efficacies of sodium hypochlorite and hydrogen peroxide disinfectants did not vary between strains, but there were significant differences between strains treated with quaternary ammonium chloride disinfectants.

Reference: Lineback CB, et al. Hydrogen peroxide and sodium hypochlorite disinfectants are more effective against Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms than quaternary ammonium compounds. Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control20187:154

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