“Nosocomial” is a big word for a problem that isn’t getting any smaller. Hospital-acquired infections are so common—hundreds of thousands– that few may see the irony in a sickness that results from visiting a hospital.
Modern methods of control include strict sanitation policies which mean gloves as well as liberal repeat dousings of chemical disinfectants.
Still, chemicals are not ideal for the following reasons:
- Short term of effectiveness, about 30 minutes
- Pathogens can mutate, making chosen chemicals ineffective
- Chemicals pollute the environment
Could probiotics do better?
Researchers at the University of Messina in Italy designed an experiment in which they used a sanitation system using the natural competiveness of probiotics.
Vincenza La Fauci and colleagues published their results as An Innovative Approach to Hospital Sanitization Using Probiotics: In Vitro and Field Trials
Three surfaces were involved: Sink, floor and desk. A probiotic solution contained spores of Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus pumilus and Bacillus megaterium was used to coat the surfaces.
Average reduction ranged from 92.2% to 99.9% after 24 hours.
“From field trials it emerged that the bacterial count was totally eliminated for Enterococcus faecalis and Candida albicans and almost 100% elimination of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Acinetobacter baumannii e Klebsiella pneumoniae on all three surfaces…” Clostridium difficile, a particularly lethal bug, was not tested.
The authors conclude:
“Probiotics are ecological, easy to use and biodegradable. They render the environment hygienically stable and are able to survive on and colonize non biological surfaces, combatting the proliferation of other bacteria. In this study they were also found to perform well on surfaces in the hospital environment that are subject to regular recontamination. Probiotics are therefore effective innovative products for sanitizing the hospital environment and constitute a valid “green” alternative to the chemical disinfectants used up to now. However, further trials are necessary to test the product on surfaces which expose hospitalized patients to the greatest risks of infection.”