Vladerag's Blog

{October 25, 2009}   OMG! Infection in our schools!

In every school across the united states, in every room, you will find hand sanitizer bottles.  Teachers provide them in their classroom, and some students even carry bottles around with them!  This is a reaction to the H1N1 outbreak, but does it actually work?

Many websites say, no, a hand sanitizer will not kill a virus like H1N1.  However, the Mayo Clinic website says that it can help slow the progression of a virus, but it is no more effective than regular soap, and may actually aid in the creation of superbugs.   

How do antibacterial soaps create superbugs?  Its the simple process of evolution!  The sanitizer kills by using chemicals

For those who have not heard the term yet, a superbug is a bacteria that is no longer effected by the majority of drugs, making it a nightmare for hospitals to treat and contain.

People tend to buy the same product over and over again.  This, in the case of antibacterial sanitizer, is actually a very bad thing.  Antibacterial’s kill bacteria with chemicals that interact with the cells in such a way as to damage the cell.  Depending on the active ingredient, this can happen in many different ways.

However, bacteria have been evolving against natures antibacterial since the dawn of life itself.  Give a bacteria enough time and it will evolve a solution to your antibacterial.

But isnt evolution a slow process?  In a word, sometimes.  You see, evolution is measured in generations, not in actual time.  And a single E. Coli bacteria can have a generation in 40 mins.  In other words, if i have 1 E. Coli, in two hours i will have 8 E. Coli, and three generations would pass.  Human generations are about every 60 years, and in that time, 31449600 generations of E. Coli will pass.  So E. Coli evolve much faster than we do.

So, it is actually possible for bacteria to evolve between the time you clean your counter.  And if your antibacterial becomes ineffective against one bacteria species, you will aid it by killing off all its competion with that same soap.  Eventually, washing your hands will become pointless.  Unless you rotate your sanitizer, not all sanitizer kill the same way you see.

Some general cleanliness rules are these:

1) rotate your sanitizer, having three different sanitizer is a good idea

2) make sure your sanitizer have different active ingredients, you can check this at the back of the case

Following these you will protect your house, but how can we protect our schools?  Remember, any one sanitizer will be ineffective after a while.  The honest answer is, we dont need to so much.  We should wash our hands in the bathroom yes, and a little hand sanitizer isnt bad.  But gobs of it, and all the time?  There is no more risk of infection now, than there was 10 years ago, yesterday, or will be in 40 years.  H1N1 will either only be delayed, or it wont even be affected at all, by antibacterial, and our immune systems have handled bacteria from the time we evolved.

H1N1 has so far killed less people than bee stings, not only that, but we have treatments for it and a vaccine.  So that scare is overblown.  Hand sanitizer might actually be creating the next superbug, so that is sort of a bad thing. 

In other words, our schools are fine.  Anytime people want to stop overreacting is good.


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