Antibacterial Household Products: Cause for Concern

Presentation from the 2000 Emerging Infectious Diseases Conference in Atlanta, Georgia

Stuart B. Levy

Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA


The recent entry of products containing antibacterial agents into healthy households has escalated from a few dozen products in the mid-1990s to more than 700 today. Antibacterial products were developed and have been successfully used to prevent transmission of disease-causing microorganisms among patients, particularly in hospitals. They are now being added to products used in healthy households, even though an added health benefit has not been demonstrated. Scientists are concerned that the antibacterial agents will select bacteria resistant to them and cross-resistant to antibiotics. Moreover, if they alter a person's microflora, they may negatively affect the normal maturation of the T helper cell response of the immune system to commensal flora antigens; this change could lead to a greater chance of allergies in children. As with antibiotics, prudent use of these products is urged. Their designated purpose is to protect vulnerable patients.

Antibiotics are critical to the treatment of bacterial infections. However, after years of overuse and misuse of these drugs, bacteria have developed antibiotic resistance, which has become a global health crisis (1, 2). The relatively recent increase of surface antibacterial agents or biocides into healthy households may contribute to the resistance problem

To read full artical please go to  http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/eid/vol7no3_supp/levy.htm

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