Image_1_Optimization of E. coli Inactivation by Benzalkonium Chloride Reveals the Importance of Quantifying the Inoculum Effect on Chemical Disinfection.tiff
Optimal disinfection protocols are fundamental to minimize bacterial resistance to the compound applied, or cross-resistance to other antimicrobials such as antibiotics. The objective is twofold: guarantee safe levels of pathogens and minimize the excess of disinfectant after a treatment. In this work, the disinfectant dose is optimized based on a mathematical model. The model explains and predicts the interplay between disinfectant and pathogen at different initial microbial densities (inocula) and dose concentrations. The study focuses on the disinfection of Escherichia coli with benzalkonium chloride, the most common quaternary ammonium compound. Interestingly, the specific benzalkonium chloride uptake (mean uptake per cell) decreases exponentially when the inoculum concentration increases. As a consequence, the optimal disinfectant dose increases exponentially with the initial bacterial concentration.