Alcohol Tolerance

In an article published in August 2018 authors reported some findings regarding the tolerance of Enterococcus faecium to alcohol(1). The study found that some strains of E.faecium collected after 2010 were more tolerant to a 23% alcohol solution when compared to older E.faecium strains, suggesting a potential increase of tolerance to low concentrations of alcohol.

As highlighted in a letter to the editor published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases in September 2018, these study findings are likely to have minimal implication in terms of hand hygiene and the use of alcohol-based hand rubs (ABHR) as ABHR formulations contain mucher higher (eg. 60%-90%) alcohol concentrations(2). It should be noted that in the same study the authors found no difference between newer and older isolates in bacterial log reduction found when exposed to a 70% alcohol solution(1).

The study findings emphasize the importance of ensuring appropriate selection of ABHR for the clinical setting as well as maintaining high rates of hand hygiene compliance. For HHA Product recommendations please see here.


1. Pidot SJ, Gao W, Buultjens AH, Monk IR, Guerillot R, Carter GP, et al. Increasing tolerance of hospital Enterococcus faecium to handwash alcohols. Science translational medicine. 2018;10(452).

2. Pittet D, Peters A, Tartari E. Enterococcus faecium tolerance to isopropanol: from good science to misinformation. The Lancet Infectious Diseases. 2018;18(10):1065-6.