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Bob/Judy Dilworth dilworth at megsinet.net
Mon Aug 2 19:07:02 EST 1999

Somewhere I saw an abstract regarding handwashing in a hospital setting;
the headline was that regular dishsoap destroyed more "germs" than some
fancy antibacterial soap they were using at the time.  There's also been
stuff that I've seen in passing regarding Triclosan resistance emerging
in bacteria.  We really are getting too paranoid.  Handwashing with
regular soap and water is the BEST method to avoid picking up
infections.  If you're in an environment where there's a lot of people
sneezing and blowing their noses, WASH YOUR HANDS, wipe off your phone,
and avoid scratching your nose and eyes and you'll probably avoid a lot
of colds.  If you're using shared keyboards on computers, fax machines,
etc., WASH YOUR HANDS before you eat; don't put pens in your mouth; just
be sensible.  It works.  You don't have to get NUTS about it (as in
obsessive/compulsive).  As I work in microbiology, I've just gotten used
to not touching my face, mouth, eyes while I'm working.  I don't get
very many colds (maybe one/year if that) but I'm also not around a lot
of little kids, the biggest germ reservoirs of all. Kids need to be
taught handwashing at an early age, covering their mouth, proper use of
tissues; everyone should have their own glass in the bathroom,
towels/washcloths, and new toothbrushes after a cold or flu.  These are
things that can help.  All of the antibacterials in the world won't help
if people aren't being careful about proper hygiene.

Graham is correct about normal flora being a protector against
infection.  The reason diabetics and transplant patients (or anyone
immunocompromised) get infections is because of heavy use of antibiotics
wiping out their "normal flora" and opportunistic bacteria that is more
resistant replacing the "normal" stuff.  Micro people see this on a
daily basis.  The bacteria are indeed getting more resistant.  I've been
in microbiology 25 years and the patterns are much more resistant now
than they were when I started.  People at risk, besides the
aforementioned, include the elderly in nursing homes, as most of them
have come in from hospital environments and have picked up the "bad
bugs."  These reside in their urinary tracts and respiratory tracts. 
Our lab does a lot of nursing home cultures and we have one person whose
sole job is tracking nursing home infections to alert our clients of
cluster infections.  Handwashing is the central theme at all in-services
we perform at these nursing homes.

I've probably made you more paranoid now; that was not my purpose.  A
good ol' bar of soap is fine as long as it's used.

Judy Dilworth, M.T.(ASCP)
Microbiology 25 years

kiewel306 at my-deja.com wrote:
> I have a general question about the wide-spread use of antibiotics............  Recently I've seen many consumer products advertising the use antibiotics- hand soap, dish soap, mouth wash, band-aids, etc.  Are we (consumers) asking for trouble by extensively using these products or am I being paranoid?
> Kevin Flynn
> Research Biologist
> Duluth MN USA

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