Prolonged survival of Serratia marcescens in Chlorhexidine

Applied and Environmental Microbiology (Impact Factor: 3.67). 01/1982; 42(6):1093-102.
Source: PubMed


During an outbreak of Serratia marcescens infections at our hospital, we discovered widespread contamination of the 2% chlorhexidine hand-washing solution by S. marcescens. Examination by electron microscopy of the sides of bottles in which this solution was stored revealed that microorganisms were embedded in a fibrous matrix. Bacteria, free in the liquid, were morphologically abnormal, showing cell wall disruption or cytoplasmic changes. Furthermore, bacteria adherent to the walls of the storage jugs and embedded in this fibrous matrix also had morphologically abnormal cytoplasm. Despite these changes, viable S. marcescens organisms were recovered from the fluid during a storage period of 27 months. The concentration of chlorhexidine required to inhibit these strains of Serratia was 1,024 microgram/ml; however, the organism could survive in concentrations of up to 20,000 micrograms/ml. Additional studies are needed to define the mechanism(s) that allows such bacteria to contaminate and survive in disinfectants.

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    • "Serratia marcescens was found to be viable even after 27 months in a disinfectant containing 2% chlorhexidine. A concentration of 0.1% chlorhexidine is sufficient to kill the cells of S. marcescens if they are freely suspended in liquid (Marrie & Costerton 1981; Costerton & Lashen 1983). Microbial contamination of e.g. "
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    • "Even starchy foods, such as bread and communion wafers, can provide this bacterium a rich growth substrate (Hejazi and Falkiner 1997). In addition, S. marcescens is able to survive under extreme conditions such as in double-distilled water (Szewzyk et al. 1993), disinfectants (Marrie and Costerton 1981), and antiseptics (Nakashima et al. 1987). which have potential therapeutic application. "

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