Disinfectants are the first line of defence against the spread of hospital-acquired infections. Eliminating a broad range of pathogens with one formula is a difficult task.However researchers from the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin, Germany have formulated a fast-acting disinfectant that is effective against bacteria, viruses, fungi and prions that could help reduce the spread of deadly infections in hospitals.The work has been published in the February issue of Journal of General Virology .This new formulation could be used for disinfecting surgical instruments as it works well against a wide range of pathogens that are able to resist the action of ordinary disinfectants for instance bacterium Mycobacterium avium that causes a tuberculosis-type illness in immunocompromised individuals and enteroviruses that may cause polio.
The new formula involved mixing of original alkaline detergent formulation with varying amounts of alcohol. This was then tested on rid surgical instruments of bacteria, viruses and fungi in addition to prions. They found that the original mixture made in 20% propanol was optimal for disinfecting instruments without fixing proteins to their surfaces.Some micro-organisms such as mycobacteria, poliovirus, fungal spores and not least prions are particularly resistant to inactivation.Prions are unprecedented transmissible pathogenic agents that cause a
group of fatal neurodegenerative diseases, including Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) and kuru in humans, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle, chronic wasting disease (CWD) in deer and elk, and scrapie in sheep and goats. Prions are resistant to standard disinfection and sterilization procedures validated against viruses and bacteria. They are a particular problem to eliminate because they are very resistant to inactivation and can even become ‘fixed’ on surfaces by some conventional disinfectants and are known for their ability to stick to rough surface. In addition it’s a real challenge to disinfect complex instruments used in neurosurgery for example because they are heat-sensitive. There are well documented cases of iatrogenic prion transmission from surgical instruments and cadaveric tissue. The lack of noncorrosive procedures that inactivate prions is a cause for concern for hospital infection-control departments. In previous studies the team had identified a simple alkaline detergent formulation that was effective at eradicating prions from the surfaces of surgical instruments.
Dr. Beekes believes the new formulation is safer,more material-friendly,easy to prepare and cost effective.As it is very effective against a broad spectrum of infectious organisms,it could have a huge impact on hospital safety protocols.