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Indoor plants and airing are better than antibacterial cleaning agents
"Eliminates 99 percent of all bacteria" ... cleaning agent manufacturers use these and similar slogans to advertise their antibacterial cleaning agents. According to a recent study, what sounds nice and clean can have serious consequences. Because Austrian researchers found that intensive hygiene with antibacterial agents strongly promotes the spread of resistant pathogens.
An Austrian research team recently delivered the first applicable methods that inhibit the spread of antibiotic-resistant germs. The motto is: less is more! The team at the Graz University of Technology recently showed in a study how antibiotic resistance can be promoted through strong hygiene measures. The reason: in rooms with a high level of hygiene, the microbial diversity decreases. At the same time, however, the number of antibiotic resistances is increasing. The study results were recently published in the renowned journal "Nature Communications".
Antibacterial agents promote resistance to antibiotics
"The number of people who develop and die from antibiotic-resistant germs is increasing worldwide," warn the Graz researchers. To counteract this, for example, hospitals rely on high cleanliness standards. But this tactic could backfire. The scientific team analyzed to what extent the extent of cleaning and hygiene measures influences the development of resistance. They discovered that antibiotic resistance is particularly common in rooms with a high level of hygiene.
More cleaning agents = more antibiotic resistance?
In their investigations, the researchers compared the entire microbiome (all existing microorganisms) and the resistome (all existing resistances) in rooms with high hygiene standards with rooms that are hardly influenced by microbes. Most of the antibiotic resistances were found in the rooms with the strongest hygiene measures, such as in the intensive care unit, but also in public and private buildings with high hygiene.
Bacterial diversity slows down resistance
"In highly microbially controlled environments of the intensive care unit and the industrial clean rooms, there is an increased resistance to antibiotics that have a high potential to connect with pathogens," study leader Alexander Mahnert reports in a press release on the study results. A stable microbial diversity could counteract the spread of resistance.
More plants - less antibacterial cleaning agents
"Our study is the first basis for pursuing such ideas indoors in the future," adds Gabriele Berg, head of the Institute for Environmental Biotechnology at Graz University of Technology. Regular ventilation, indoor plants, the targeted use of useful microorganisms or the reduction of antibacterial cleaning agents are the first strategies to maintain or improve the microbial diversity.
Microbial control already proven for stool transplantation
"Microbial control of pathogens is already being used successfully in crop plants and also in humans as part of stool transplantation," explains Berg. In the stool transplant that has been known since the 1950s, the intestinal flora is transferred from one person to another by means of a faecal donation. For people with a gut microbiome damaged by antibiotics, this measure can help build the gut flora. (vb)