Household Antibacterial Soaps
May Be Creating Superbugs
Household goods treated with anti-bacterial disinfectants could help to create superbugs, a leading expert has warned.
Items such as chopping boards, cleaning cloths and mops are now being routinely impregnated with anti-bacterial disinfectants, Professor Denver Russell will tell a conference organised by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain on Thursday.
However, there is growing concern that micro-organisms will become resistant to the disinfectants, and that they will be able to spread unchecked.
The government has already warned that over use of antibiotics has lead to bacteria developing resistance to the drugs.
Professor Russell, a pharmaceutical microbiologist from the Welsh School of Pharmacy, Cardiff, will warn that the overuse of disinfectants could exacerbate the problem.
Firstly, disinfectants may only work against bacteria that are not likely to develop antibiotic resistance, leaving the more robust organisms to multiply.
Secondly, the disinfectant may actively stimulate the bacteria to develop antibiotic resistance.
Professor Russell said: "We do not know for sure whether there is a link between antibiotic and resistance, and resistance to disinfectants.
"But there is a possible risk that freqeuent exposure to disinfectant could lead to antibiotic resistance in some bacteria."
Professor Russell said that US research had already suggested strongly that the disinfectant Triclosan, used extensively to combat MRSA superbugs in hospitals, might actually promote antibiotic resistance.
Professor said the use of disinfectant impregnated household cleaners was probably unnecessary.
"If you stray away from the basic principles of cleanliness and personal hygiene then you are in trouble," he said.