Friday, September 4, 2009

Anti-bacterial / germicidal: the real health threat?

A schematic representation of how antibiotic r...Image via Wikipedia

Anti-bacterial or germicidal products are all around us. We are lead to believe that they are better than the plain-jane versions. Dish-washing liquids now comes in germicidal varieties. Even computer keyboards comes in germicidal varieties. But has it gone too far?

First, are bacteria REALLY that harmful through contact? There are deadly bacteria. Bad forms of E Coli or Botulism and such sends plenty to hospital very year. However, those are all INGESTED bacteria. What bacteria is there that are dangerous through CONTACT?

I mean, you wouldn't use those germicidal hand cleaners on your food, do you? Say a cucumber, carrot, and so on, that you'd eat raw?

The only kind that are widely known is the "flesh-eating bacteria", and even then it needs some sort of an entrance. But what are the chances of running into those for the average Joe?

Second, what about the GOOD bacteria? There are plenty of stuff that lives inside you.

Third, what are the consequences of such germicidal mania? More serious than you think.

Nature is a self-regulating mechanism. If you push it one way, eventually it will push back. What will likely happen is in the near future the common germs that these germicidal agents may develop resistance to these agents. It's the natural thing to do. So we'll have to invent something STRONGER... and the war continues.

The danger to this scenario is... if the resistant strain somehow got crossed with a virulent strain, we'd end up with a pandemic that we can't stop.

And we already have "drug resistant" forms of many diseases. Drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis already exists to most common forms of antibiotics, and the super-advanced antibiotics cost an arm and a leg. (And you thought that TB had been eradicated from the world!) The "super germs" are causing problems in Europe a lot. Many have died in hospitals from these super-germ infections.

Why do we need all this germicidal stuff when a simple hand-washing will do? After all, hospitals have done it for a hundred years to prevent infections, right?

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