The Importance of Antiseptics
A recently published report from Applied and Environmental Microbiology demonstrated that household antisepsis products, such as bleach, contribute to the spread of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in the home. The study was conducted as part of an effort to better understand risk factors that contribute to the spread of resistant bacteria. Although household use of antiseptics was the focus of this study, it was reminiscent of a previous study describing the selection of resistance by the household and hospital antiseptic chlorhexidine. These studies underscore the importance of proper use of chemical cleaners in the home and in healthcare facilities.
Antisepsis and disinfection are vital parts of health care based on their role in preventing the spread of infection. The degree of control over a microbial population varies based on the circumstances: disinfecting a patient before surgery eliminates most microbes without harming the patient, whereas the tools used during surgery can be harshly treated to eliminate all microbial life, using ethylene gas exposure or autoclaving. Thoroughly cleaning also prevents potential pathogen contamination of surfaces can harbor microbes and be transmitted as fomites.
A recently published book from ASM Press emphasizes the theory and practice of controlling and eliminating microorganisms. The book, Antisepsis, Disinfection and Sterilization, gives a detailed explanation of current chemical and physical sterilization methods and describes their mechanisms of action. Importantly, the book discusses mechanisms of microbial resistance to different biocides. For a limited time, you can access Chapter Three ("Chemical Disinfection") for free:
Chemical disinfection includes many chemical types, featuring acids, metals, halogens (such as bleach, mentioned above), alcohols, and essential oils, among others. The chapter summaries applications, mode of action, spectrum of activity, advantages, and disadvantages of each chemical family. Review the proper chemical treatment to use during, after, and between patient treatment.