Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Can CFers be Killing Too Many Bugs???

I'm constantly pleading with parents of CF children to not put their kids in a bubble. Not only does it end with the child being socially awkward, but it can also cause the child's immune system to be weakened. I have often pointed to studies that site that it is actually good for children to get sick in order to build up their immunities. I'd be much better to have a nasty cold as a kid with nice pink lungs than to get a nasty cold that you can't fight off with old and damaged lungs, like me.

I was given free reign as a kid and was not held back at all. In fact, I remember my mom encouraging me to play with kids who had chicken pox so I could get them out if the way (I never did get those)! Bottom line: Let your kids be kids. Kids like to get dirty. They like to play with other messy snotty nosed kids. They like to roll around in the dirt. Hopefully, by the time they get to be an old man like me, they'll be immune to every cold, flu, or ____ bug out there!

I also wanted to share an interesting article that falls along these same lines. I know a lot of parents out there who are disinfectant freaks. Now, I'm not saying to totally hold the hand sanitizer and whatever you clean your house with, but maybe you'll want to back off a bit after reading this article.

ScienceDaily (Dec. 27, 2009)Using disinfectants could cause bacteria to become resistant to antibiotics as well as the disinfectant itself, according to research published in the January issue of Microbiology. The findings could have important implications for how the spread of infection is managed in hospital settings.

Researchers from the National University of Ireland in Galway found that by adding increasing amounts of disinfectant to laboratory cultures ofPseudomonas aeruginosa, the bacteria could adapt to survive not only the disinfectant but also ciprofloxacin -- a commonly-prescribed antibiotic -- even without being exposed to it. The researchers showed that the bacteria had adapted to more efficiently pump out antimicrobial agents (disinfectant and antibiotic) from the bacterial cell. The adapted bacteria also had a mutation in their DNA that allowed them to resist ciprofloxacin-type antibiotics specifically.

P. aeruginosa is an opportunistic bacterium that can cause a wide range of infections in people with weak immune systems and those with diseases such as cystic fibrosis (CF) and diabetes. P. aeruginosa is an important cause of hospital-acquired infections. Disinfectants are used to kill bacteria on surfaces to prevent their spread. If the bacteria manage to survive and go on to infect patients, antibiotics are used to treat them. Bacteria that can resist both these control points may be a serious threat to hospital patients.

Importantly, the study showed that when very small non-lethal amounts of disinfectant were added to the bacteria in culture, the adapted bacteria were more likely to survive compared to the non-adapted bacteria. Dr. Gerard Fleming, who led the study, said, "In principle this means that residue from incorrectly diluted disinfectants left on hospital surfaces could promote the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. What is more worrying is that bacteria seem to be able to adapt to resist antibiotics without even being exposed to them."

Dr. Fleming also stressed the importance of studying the environmental factors that might promote antibiotic resistance. "We need to investigate the effects of using more than one type of disinfectant on promoting antibiotic-resistant strains. This will increase the effectiveness of both our first and second lines of defence against hospital-acquired infections," he said.

Keep in mind, this is coming from a guy who washed his hands maybe once a week and just started cleaning his nebs consistently earlier this year, so by no means am I the "clean police". So although I wouldn't advocate using my extreme of "paying pretty much no attention at all to clean vs not clean"; I would encourage you to balance life with your level of spotlessness :)