Susceptibility of vancomycin-resistant enterococci to environmental disinfectants

Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 1997 Mar;18(3):195-9. doi: 10.1086/647587.


Objective: To determine the susceptibilities of vancomycin-resistant and -sensitive enterococci (VRE and VSE) to various concentrations of commonly used, commercial, hospital-grade disinfectants.

Design: A microbial suspension test using inocula of 10(8) cells per mL in a disinfectant test dilution was used to determine inactivation kinetics of the test strains. In each test, 1-mL aliquots were removed from the cell-disinfectant mixtures at 15 and 30 seconds and then at 1-minute intervals for 5 minutes and neutralized. Appropriate serial dilutions were plated on agar medium for enumeration of survivors.

Results: VRE and VSE challenge inocula (in the absence of any additional protein or serum challenge) were below the limit of detection (5 colony-forming units/mL) after 15 seconds' exposure to the manufacturers' suggested use-dilutions of quaternary ammonium, phenolic, or iodophor germicidal detergents. In subsequent tests, when the disinfectants were diluted far beyond-the recommended use-dilutions (extended dilution), no differences were demonstrated between the susceptibilities of VRE and VSE.

Conclusions: VRE and VSE are sensitive to a spectrum of commonly used environmental disinfectants and have parallel inactivation rates when challenged with extended dilutions of these products. Our findings did not demonstrate a relationship between antibiotic and germicide resistance. Routine disinfection and housekeeping protocols presently used in hospitals need not be altered due to concerns about the potential for environmentally mediated transmission of antibiotic-resistant microorganisms.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Disinfectants / pharmacology*
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial
  • Enterococcus / drug effects*
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Vancomycin / pharmacology*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Disinfectants
  • Vancomycin