When we think of antibiotic misuse, we often think of how it contributes to big name superbugs such as C. diff and MRSA. But what often goes overlooked is how antibiotic misuse affects the many microbes that are beneficial to our health. While the Human Microbiome Project is a step in the right direction towards learning more about combating horrible diseases like C. diff, it is also a huge advancement in terms of understanding which microbes truly benefit us—and which ones we may have been too quick to label as hazardous to our health.
Take for example the germ H. pylori. During the 1980s, it was discovered that H. pylori was a causative agent for peptic ulcers. While this major discovery resulted in the treatment of such individuals by aiming to eradicate H. pylori microbes from the stomach, researchers are now discovering possible adverse implications of this.
Before I begin discussing how the Human Microbiome Project has already impacted our knowledge of H. pylori, I want to make it clear that I am not by any means suggesting that this particular microbe is not hazardous to our health. In other words, I’m not suggesting you go and ingest H. pylori as Barry Marshall did in order to validate his theory about H. pylori and peptic ulcers. Read more »
A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Houston concluded that the items in hotel rooms with the highest levels of bacteria are those that are most commonly touched first upon entering a hotel room . Such items include the TV remote, bedside lamp, and light switch. This new evidence coincides with findings from a similar study conducted in 2009 at the University of Arizona, where researchers concluded that TV remote controls in hospital rooms contained more bacteria than items such as the toilet bowl handle and bathroom door .
Another important aspect of this study’s findings is the fact that the data suggests that bacteria is most likely to be spread from room to room via the janitorial staff. Items that are transported from room to room, including cleaning carts, mops, and sponges were found to contain the highest amounts of bacterial contamination. After losing my father in 2008 to a number of infections including MRSA and C. diff, one of my biggest complaints was the fact that the janitorial staff at the hospital would clean the entire ICU with one bucket and mop, never stopping to change the cleaning solution from room to room. Because C. diff can form spores that are able survive on surfaces for long periods of time, such cleaning mechanisms are essentially causing more harm than good by transporting bacteria from room to room. While this present study focuses on hotel rooms, it still raises the issue of inadvertently transporting bacteria across hospital rooms.
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