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Cleanliness may cultivate drug resistance

Good hygiene is key to infection control but it may be contributing to growing drug resistance, according to a new study in Nature Communications.

Researchers at Graz University of Technology in Austria compared the microbial diversity of highly sanitized environments, including an intensive care unit, to public and private buildings with hardly any microbial controls. They found that environments with stronger hygiene measures were “microbial wastelands” where fewer microorganisms survived. The microorganisms that did survive, however, had a greater diversity of resistances. These tougher bugs show a high potential for combining with pathogens, according to study leader Dr. Alexander Mahnert.

By contrast, dirtier areas had more diverse microbial makeups that “shield against the invasion of pathogens,” in the same way that diverse ecosystems are more resilient against invasive species. They also hosted more potentially beneficial bacteria.

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Source: CMAJ News