Detection of benzalkonium chloride resistance in community environmental isolates of staphylococci

J Med Microbiol. 2014 May;63(Pt 5):735-741. doi: 10.1099/jmm.0.073072-0. Epub 2014 Feb 28.


We isolated a total of 653 strains from 64 community environmental samples in Massachusetts, USA. Among these isolates, 9.65 % (63 strains) were benzalkonium chloride (BC)-resistant staphylococci. All BC-resistant strains were collected from surfaces upon which antibacterial wipes or antibacterial sprays containing 0.02-0.12 % BC had frequently been used in the fitness centres. However, isolates from surfaces upon which antibacterial wipes or antibacterial sprays had not been used were all sensitive to BC. All BC-resistant strains were also resistant to erythromycin, penicillin and ampicillin. In addition, 51 strains showed resistance to cetyltrimethylammonium bromide (CTAB), 15 strains showed resistance to chloramphenicol, 12 strains showed resistance to ciprofloxacin and four strains showed resistance to meticillin. Resistance gene analysis demonstrated that 41 strains contained qacA/B, 30 strains had qacC, 25 strains contained qacG, 16 strains had qacH and eight strains contained qacJ. These data indicate that application of BC is associated with environmental staphylococcal antimicrobial resistance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Benzalkonium Compounds / pharmacology*
  • Disinfectants / pharmacology*
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial*
  • Environmental Microbiology*
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Humans
  • Massachusetts
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Staphylococcus / drug effects*
  • Staphylococcus / genetics
  • Staphylococcus / isolation & purification*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Benzalkonium Compounds
  • Disinfectants