"Testing has shown this new system to be accurate," Polgreen said, but he added that it still has to be tested in a variety of situations.
Dr. Marc Siegel, an infectious disease expert and associate professor of medicine at New York University School of Medicine in New York City, called the new system "impressive."
"We all agree that washing your hands is the way to go," Siegel said. But he is not convinced that hand sanitizers are totally effective. "Washing your hands with soap and water is better," he said.
In the second report, a team led by Rupak Datta, an M.D./ Ph.D. candidate at the University of California at Irvine, found that 40 percent of MRSA and vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) infections are transmitted by touching nearby surfaces. VRE is another dangerous antibiotic-resistant pathogen.
"These infections can be cultured off a variety of surfaces, such as doorknobs, countertops, computer keyboards and bed trays," Datta said during the teleconference.
To combat this problem, the researchers developed a new cleaning method for disinfecting patient rooms. Instead of using spray bottles, the method involved cloths saturated with disinfectant and included instruction in proper cleaning techniques.
The enhanced cleaning significantly cut down on MRSA but was only moderately effective in killing VRE. The researchers believe that a different method will be needed to reduce VRE infections.
"This suggests that cleaning measures over and above national standards can be important in reducing the transmission of multi-drug-resistant organisms, such as MRSA and VRE in high-risk patient care areas, such as the ICU," Datta said.
"It is interesting," Siegel noted, "that VRE is even more resistant to standard cleaning techniques than MRSA. That implies that the
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