WEDNESDAY, Dec. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Antiseptics are meant to keep bacteria and other pathogens from entering the body through breaks in the skin, but sometimes these products can be contaminated with the very organisms they're supposed to guard against, new research shows.
In the Dec. 6 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, scientists from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration detail recent outbreaks that have occurred in products such as single-use alcohol swabs and pre-surgery antiseptics.
"It is important that health care providers be aware that topical antiseptic products, if contaminated, pose a risk of infection and that particular microbes isolated from clinical specimens have been traced to the contamination of such products," the FDA experts wrote in the report.
How can products that are supposed to kill germs contain germs?
"Nothing is 100 percent. Bacteria are really diverse and they're adapted to living in different environments," said Dr. Bruce Hirsch, an attending physician in infectious diseases at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y.
However, Hirsch added that he believes the FDA "should require sterilized manufacturing whenever possible."
Currently, companies that produce antiseptic products aren't required to manufacture these products in sterile environments.
The regulations surrounding the production of antiseptic products were designed in the 1970s. At the time, it was assumed that antiseptic products didn't need to be produced in a sterile environment, because experts believed that any pathogens present would be killed by the antiseptic.
But, according to the FDA researchers, a number of outbreaks associated with these products have been reported in medical journals and to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The authors also noted that there are probably more outbreaks related t
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