Leeuwenhoek had stolen and peeped into the fantastic sub-visible world of little things, creatures that had lived, had bred, had battled, had died, completely hidden from and unknown to all men from the beginning of time. Beasts these were of a kind that ravaged and annihilated whole races of men ten million times larger than they were themselves. Beings these were, more terrible than fire-spitting dragons or hydra-headed monsters. They were silent assassins that murdered babies in warm cradles and kings in sheltered places. It was this invisible, insignificant, but implacable-and sometimes friendly- world Leeuwenhoek had looked into for the first time of all men of all countries. ~Microbe Hunters

Wednesday, 29 May 2013


Soap is the most effective way to rid your hands of any disease-causing microorganisms. However, within 20 minutes of showering, your body is fully colonized with your normal flora. The normal flora is important to keep you healthy, not to mention essential in many metabolic activities inside your body. When you wash your hands before eating a meal, you are washing away any pathogenic (disease causing) bacteria, or bacteria that cause illnesses, as well as your normal flora. Although your normal flora will regrow to its normal state before you are done eating your sandwich, you will not get sick from the pathogenic ones you already washed off. 

Antimicrobial soap does the same thing: it rids your hands of the exact same bacteria. It has become more known that using antimicrobial soap is contributing to the antibiotic resistance in organisms, however, what many people don’t understand is how they can directly harm themselves or their family by purchasing and using antimicrobial household products (i.e. hand soap, tooth paste and deodorant).

Pseudomonas aeurginosa is a microorganism generally found in hot tubs, contact lens solutions, and contaminated medical devices. They have many mechanisms of resistance including multi-drug EFFLUX PUMPS. They are clinically resistant to penicillin, ampicillin, trimethoprime, sulfonamide, cephalosporin, chloramphenicol and some beta-lactams. That’s a long list. Pseudomonas can actually grow and thrive in antibacterial soaps, whereas other microorganisms cannot. In normal soap, other organisms may colonize the soap, which out-competes Pseudomonas, making it unable to grow. These other organisms are not (typically) harmful to our health.

The use of infected antimicrobial soap can replace the normal, harmless, microflora on your hands, with disease-causing, resistant microflora of Pseudomonas, especially if not completely rinsed off perfectly. It can cause bacteremia (blood infections), wound infections, pulmonary disease, UTIs and endocarditis. If you land yourself an infection with Pseudomonas, you will have to be admitted to the hospital for intravenous (IV) drugs. The multi-resistance of this organism leaves few antibiotics that can treat it. A combination of beta-lactams and aminoglycoside drugs are used to treat these infections. Pregnant women are not prescribed aminoglycosides because of known fetal birth defect including hearing loss and kidney problems, thus further limiting treatment, or putting the baby's development at risk.

Pseudomonas is very pretty in the lab, though. It produces pyocyanin which results in a blueish pigmentation, and also has a grape like smell.

I am happy to say that with this information, the next shipment of hand soaps my boss is ordering for the city's public washrooms, is general foaming hand cleanser, as opposed to antibacterial foaming hand cleanser. Baby steps. As people become aware, we can live in harmony with the microscopic world in which we live. 

Darn good and sure of it,



  1. Interesting! Most people know about MRSA, probably due to the publicity a few years ago.
    I learned something new today, thank you.

  2. Wow! I never knew any of that. Luckily I like my old fashioned soap. :-)
    I've got a little present for you over at my blog if you'd like to accept it. :-)
    Just Ermie