In this issue


Microbiology Australia Microbiology Australia
Issue 4

Vertical Transmission, November 2010

Many of you would have heard about the difficulties the Society has been experiencing in the National Office over recent months. We have had a number of resignations; first our executive officer, then our conference manager and most recently our office manager. As I outlined in the last Vertical Transmission, in order to cope with the resignation of our conference manager in May (two months before the Sydney meeting), we were required to call in an experienced professional conference organiser (ICMS) to ensure that the Sydney meeting did not su...

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Biocides in the health industry

Biocides, whether naturally extracted or chemically engineered, are invaluable compounds that provide the health industry with numerous benefits. They can be used as disinfectants or antiseptics playing an important role in the control of bacteria and viruses. Thus, they are a precious resource that must be managed so as to be protected from loss of activity over time; these compounds are often overlooked in the significance of bacterial persistence and resistance.

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Emergence of bacterial resistance to microbicides and antibiotics

Public awareness of the role of microorganisms in infection and spoilage and the role of the media in highlighting poor hygiene and the failure of healthcare settings in preventing hospital-acquired infections, have fuelled the use of products containing one or several microbicides in the healthcare environment but also at home. The number of such products with a microbicidal claim is increasing rapidly, although their impact on the microbial flora, notably in terms of emerging antimicrobial resistance has not been documented. With increasing e...

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Disinfectants in Australia

The use of disinfectants can be a controversial topic, particularly in healthcare settings. The TGA has regulated the higher risk products for healthcare applications since 1996, but the impact of this regulatory framework is largely unseen in what has become a relatively condensed and specialised market place. The APVMA regulates disinfectants and sanitisers and supervises critical use through AUSVETPLAN. The use of disinfectants in healthcare is completely user-dependent and the latest literature suggests that understanding the regulatory fra...

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Resistance to the biocidal activity of silver in burn wound dressings – is it a problem?

Severe burn injuries are commonly associated with significant mortality and morbidity. A burn injury of 30% of the body surface area is associated with generalised depression of the immune system. Survival from these injuries is due to many factors, including the control of bacterial colonisation and infections leading to sepsis. Many of the organisms commonly recovered from infected patients in the burn ICU are members of the ESKAPE (Enterococcus faecium, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aerugi...

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Duck hepatitis B virus: a model for assessing the efficacy of disenfectants against human hepatitis B virus infection

One of the most important aspects of infection control is the interruption of transmission of infectious organisms to and from patients within the hospital environment. Of particular concern are the blood-borne viruses HIV, hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV). Disinfectants play an important role in infection control, but their virucidal efficacy is difficult to measure in vitro because of the high susceptibility of tissue culture systems to damage by chemical agents and the relatively low titres which are achieved in growing ma...

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Endoscopes and biocides

Biocides are multi-targeted agents designed to kill bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microbes. These microorganisms possess considerable differences in the cellular structures and thus broad responses of different biocides.

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Pumping out biocides – cause for concern

Bacteria employ a number of resistance mechanisms against antimicrobials, commonly including target site modification, antimicrobial degradation and active efflux. Of these mechanisms, efflux is unique in that a single efflux system can confer resistance to a remarkably broad range of structurally dissimilar antibiotics and biocides that have different intracellular targets and modes of action. For example, in the opportunistic pathogens Staphylococcus aureus and Acinetobacter baumannii, single multidrug efflux systems facilitate the extrusion ...

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Tea-tree oil – a naturally occurring biocide

Tea-tree oil (TTO) is the essential oil derived from an Australian native plant that has been used for hundreds of years, mainly for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. With the advent of ever-increasing resistance to antibiotics and biocides amongst organisms, TTO may play an important role in the health industry in the fight against resistance.

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Antimicrobial testing of healthcare and industrial products

For the industrial microbiologist the testing landscape comprises a plethora of standardised testing methods. Often these are to be followed rigorously according to regulatory guidelines or rules. Sometimes the product or application may require some modification of a standard method to achieve a more realistic test result. Very occasionally, a method must be developed from scratch, based upon scientific principles and, where possible, utilising approaches used in either published papers or standards. Industrial testing is usually undertaken fo...

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Microbicides for HIV

Microbicides are chemical entities that can be incorporated in gels, films, tablets or rings for application to the vagina or rectum to prevent the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Leading Australian microbicide efforts include the development of a dendrimer nanoparticle with broad-spectrum activity against HIV, HSV and HPV, and a natural factor produced by lactobacilli in the healthy female genital tract. Clinical trials have revealed that nonspecific agents such as nonoxynol-9 and moderately specific linear polya...

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Biocide use, integrons and novel genetic elements

Resistance to antibiotics threatens our ability to control bacterial pathogens. It is clear that the persistence of cells containing resistance determinants is promoted by the strong selective pressure imposed by antibiotic use. This problem has been exacerbated by inappropriate and excessive use of antibiotics in both medicine and animal production. Concern has also been raised that inappropriate use of biocides contributes to the selection of resistant bacterial strains. This may occur because detoxification mechanisms for biocides and antibi...

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Preservatives in personal care products

Studies conducted on personal care products (cosmetics) in the 1960s and 1970s found up to 24% of unopened products were contaminated, mainly with Pseudomonads, while up to 49% of used samples were also contaminated. These studies highlighted the need for the incorporation of preservatives into water-based formulations along with improvements to manufacturing practices.

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Biocides in antimicrobial paints

There is a real need to take all means possible to control the spread of pathogenic bacteria and fungi in health facilities. The use of biocide containing antimicrobial surfaces is one additional option being strongly promoted to complement the standard cleaning and disinfection practices. The emergence of multidrug-resistant bacteria in medical facilities has resulted in significant media attention and the widespread dissemination of information to the general population. The fear of germs, fuelled by headlines of ‘superbugs’ plus recent viral...

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From the Editors

Microbiology Australia has gone through a major change this year as ASM seeks to contain costs to the Society. Of course many other journals are already online only journals so most readers will be familiar with this format. For Microbiology Australia the change means we have the opportunity to add videos, web links and virtually unlimited supplementary material. We are interested in hearing your stories of how you now use the electronic journal.

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