Researchers Study Effect of PHMB-Treated Gloves on Pathogens From Contact Surfaces


Reduction of accidental contamination of the near-patient environment has potential to reduce acquisition of healthcare-associated infection(s). Although medical gloves should be removed when soiled or touching the environment, compliance is variable. The use of antimicrobial-impregnated medical gloves could reduce the horizontal-transfer of bacterial contamination between surfaces. Ali and Wilson (2017) sought to determine the activity of antimicrobial-impregnated gloves against common hospital pathogens: Streptococcus pyogenes, carbapenem-resistant E.coli (CREC), MRSA and ESBL-producing Klebsiella pneumoniae.

Fingerpads (~1cm2) of PHMB-treated and untreated gloves were inoculated with 10 μL (~104 colony-forming-units [cfu]) of test-bacteria prepared in heavy-soiling (0.5%BSA), blood or distilled-water (no-soiling) and sampled after 0.25, 1, 10 or 15 min contact-time.

Donor surfaces (~1cm2 computer-keys) contaminated with wet/dry inoculum were touched with the fingerpad of treated/untreated gloves and subsequently pressed onto recipient (uncontaminated) computer-keys.

Approximately 4.50log10cfu of all bacteria persisted after 15 min on untreated gloves regardless of soil-type. In the absence of soiling, PHMB-treated gloves reduced surface-contamination by ~4.5log10cfu (>99.99%) within 10 min of contact-time but only ~2.5log10 (>99.9%) and ~1.0log10 reduction respectively when heavy-soiling or blood was present.

Gloves became highly-contaminated (~4.52log10–4.91log10cfu) when handling recently-contaminated computer-keys. Untreated gloves contaminated “recipient” surfaces (~4.5log10cfu) while PHMB-treated gloves transferred fewer bacteria (2.4–3.6log10cfu). When surface contamination was dry, PHMB gloves transferred fewer bacteria (0.3–0.6log10cfu) to “recipient” surfaces than untreated gloves (1.0–1.9log10; P < 0.05).

The researchers conclude that antimicrobial-impregnated gloves may be useful in preventing dissemination of organisms in the near-patient environment during routine care. However, they are not a substitute for appropriate hand hygiene procedures.

Reference: Ali S and Wilson APR. Effect of poly-hexamethylene biguanide hydrochloride (PHMB) treated non-sterile medical gloves upon the transmission of Streptococcus pyogenes, carbapenem-resistant E. coli, MRSA and Klebsiella pneumoniae from contact surfaces. BMC Infectious Diseases. 2017;17:574

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