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#21828
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Misuse of antibiotics is the leading cause of emerging antimicrobial resistance — a public health crisis in the making. Inappropriate prescribing practices by health care providers contributes greatly to this problem, but now there is evidence that everyday cleaning and hand-washing may also contribute to the growing trend of antimicrobial resistance.

Bacteria become resistant to antibiotics or antimicrobial products when they develop a way to keep the antibiotic from working. Bacteria are constantly evolving and, in the presence of inadequate or inappropriate antibiotics, they develop mechanisms to overcome the killing power of the antibiotic. The ever-increasing presence of resistant bacteria makes protecting the remaining effective antibiotics a public health priority.

Recently, the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy reported that the use of antibacterial consumer and household products might contribute to the development of antibiotic resistance. Many surface disinfectants contain quaternary ammonium compounds, such as benzalkonium chloride (BAC), as biocides. The study examined 238 households that used either antibacterial or non-antibacterial cleaning products. After one year of use, bacteria was isolated from the hands of the household members and tested for susceptibility to several biocides and antibiotics. The household bacteria did not show significant differences in susceptibility to BAC. However, bacteria that did show decreased susceptibility to BAC also showed decreased susceptibility to triclosan (a biocide in many personal hygiene products), as well as several antibiotics. This cross-resistance with antibiotics that are used clinically may prove significant as we explore ways to combat antimicrobial resistance.

While this study reports potential risks associated with common antibacterial products, several studies have explored their benefits. Surprisingly, no additional health benefit is seen with biocide-containing soaps and cleaners when compared to traditional non-antibacterial products. Antibacterial consumer health-care products, including soaps and oral products, as well as plastics and textiles, provide no additional protection against common infectious bacteria than traditional hand-hygiene with non-antibacterial soap. Data is needed to assess whether biocides in consumer products are beneficial to groups at high risk for infections, such as individuals with compromised immune systems.

Many factors contribute to antibiotic resistance, but this new information must be balanced with the need to protect our population from potentially serious infectious diseases. Hand hygiene alone is the most effective way to reduce the spread of infections. However, monitoring antimicrobial products and appropriate prescribing practices are paramount in the fight against antibiotic resistance.
#22720
Yes, there is a lot of hype surrounding the use of household antibacterial products. It seems there is almost a different product available for every surface in the home! There are concerns that raising children in sterile environments predisposes to developing autoimmune diseases, and there are also concerns regarding the development of resistant organisms.

If you think about it, we cannot control the cleanliness/sterility of all the surfaces with which we come into contact in everyday life outside the home, yet we survive ok! Prior to the advertising hype and availability of these multiple products we were not all overcome by infections in our home!!!

Finally, we all have commensal micro-organisms that constitute the normal flora of the healthy body. They live on our skin and mucous membranes of the upper respiratory tract, intestines etc...it's normal!!

So, good basic hygiene and common sense is all you need!
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