Anti-bacterial wipes used to combat MRSA are helping to spread it, scientists said yesterday.
Researchers at Cardiff University say that cleaning wipes do not necessarily kill bacteria such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and can actually spread the superbugs around.
Scientists at the Welsh School of Pharmacy found that MRSA survived on the wipe, and then contaminated everything it touched.
Dr Gareth Williams visited the intensive care units of Welsh hospitals to watch how staff used wipes.
"What I found was that staff would wipe one thing, perhaps a bed rail, then move on to several other surfaces, so we went back to the laboratory to see how different wipes performed under these conditions."
Dr Williamsfollowed cleaners around a Welsh hospital. He found that that the wipes picked up bacteria from surfaces, but were unable to kill it off. Subsequent cleaning using the same wipe resulted in contamination.
He said: "What is remarkable is that some of these wipes actually have the words 'kills MRSA' written on the box.
"We found that, under the conditions we observed in actual hospitals, this wasn't the case."
He is preparing guidance for hospitals in the use of the wipes. "We recommend that a wipe is not to be used on consecutive surfaces, but only on a small area and discarded immediately after use. The wipe should be used only once on one surface." he said.
The study could change the way the cloths are used around the world.