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ICAAC: Medicated Gloves May Block Infection Spread


SAN FRANCISCO -- Gloves impregnated with antimicrobial compounds may bar a route for nosocomial infections, researchers reported here.

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 28 -- Gloves impregnated with antimicrobial compounds may bar a route for drug-resistant nosocomial infections, researchers reported here.

Twenty-four hours after being exposed to multi-drug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) or drug-resistant Escherichia coli, impregnated gloves had colonies that ranged from zero to 912, depending on the pathogen and the type of glove, said a team from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Mean colony counts on untreated gloves were greater then 5,000 for both MRSA and E. coli, Ruth Reitzel, a researcher in the lab of Issam Raad, M.D., reported at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICACC).

In the experiment, the investigators treated small segments of commercial reusable latex gloves, disposable latex examination gloves, and nitrile examination gloves with a combination of brilliant green dye and Peridex (chlorhexidine).

The segments were then exposed to either multi-drug-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) or drug-resistant e. coli for periods up to 24 hours.

The combination, which has been patented by the university and has the trade name of Gardine, was highly effective at killing both pathogens, she said.

Both the dye and Peridex, which is an antiseptic, have antimicrobial activity, Reitzel said. "Synergistically, the chlorhexidine and the dye work together to enhance the effect," she added.

The researchers chose to use Peridex, she said, to avoid the possibility that use of treated gloves might lead to increases in antibiotic resistance. "Unlike antibiotics, antiseptics do not have as much resistance," she added.

The researchers conducted long-term tests, in which the glove material was smeared with a solution containing pathogens and left for 24 hours, and short-term tests lasting up to an hour.

Interestingly, the treated reusable glove material had no colonies of either pathogen, she said. The improvement was statistically significant in all cases.

After the brief exposure, the researchers were unable to recover any pathogen from the treated glove material, she said, compared with median colony-forming unit densities of greater than 1,000 per square centimeter on the untreated material.

If confirmed in a real-life trial, Reitzel said, the gloves could be used in hospital settings, but also in the food industry and in home-care situations. She noted that bacteria cause about 30% of food-borne illness annually in the U.S.

The idea of antiseptic gloves is an interesting one, because "a lot of transmission of hospital-acquired illness is via hospital staff," commented Steven Projan, Ph.D., of Wyeth Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge, Mass.

"Basically, this is a common sense approach," said Dr. Projan, a member of the ICAAC program committee.

One limitation, he said, is "there are some things you can't do as well with gloves on as you can with gloves off," so that the treated gloves would not be a complete solution.

But while a great deal of focus has been placed on mechanisms of antibiotic resistance and on developing new antibiotics, "disinfection, sanitation, is the key," Dr. Projan said.

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