Bacteria are not only important for our organism and our health, they can also be used to remove, or at least contain, dangerous pathogens and successfully disinfect surfaces. This is the result of a study conducted at the University of Jena’s Faculty of Medicine and the Charité Berlin. A team of researchers examined the impact of different cleaning regimes on the amount, diversity, and resistances of bacteria found on surfaces in hospital patient rooms. More specifically, they looked at how bacteria introduced by the patient disseminate in patient rooms, how the different cleaning agents performed against them, and whether a healthy bacterial diversity was promoted or destroyed – in the long run, the latter promotes antibiotic resistance.
For 13 weeks, various surfaces were cleaned subsequently with the antibacterial disinfectants commonly applied, with household detergents, and with a probiotic product based on good bacteria (here, rod bacteria). Following a six-week adaptation period, weekly samples were taken from door handles, floor, and sink, as well as from the patient occupying the room.
The result: Compared to the usual disinfectants, disinfection using good and healthy bacteria was found to be much better at reducing the diversity and the number of harmful bacteria, in particular on sink surfaces. In addition, the probiotic regime resulted in an increased diversity of bacterial species, i.e. in a better balance of good and less good bacteria. Among others, this may also prevent the emergence of antibacterial resistance. “The resulting structures of the environmental microbiota became more complex and stable”, the University’s Faculty of Medicine quotes the study’s first author, Dr Tilman Klassert. This has a favourable effect on patient health.
By demonstrating the positive effect of probiotic cleaning regimes in a real clinical environment, this study offers more evidence that the use of traditional disinfectants should be reconsidered. Rather, harmless bacteria should be used specifically to promote a stable bacterial diversity which in turn would counteract dangerous pathogens.