Why I am Anti Antibacterials

Written by: Captain Skellett // November 15th, 2009 // How Things Work

Work just bought three lovely new bottles of antibacterial soap. Bummer. One of my very first posts was about how much antibacterial EVERYTHING there is nowadays, and how it will unleash a race of superbugs onto us all, causing the apocalypse.

I’ve settled down a little now, because I went to a talk with a microbiologist (at the RiAus – see my previous post) and asked him what he thought about antibacterials, and he said they were unlikely to cause multiresistant bacteria because it mostly happens in hospitals, where a lot of sick people on a lot of different drugs are crammed together and cross-infect each other (yummy). I still think antibacterials are only helping select the most resilient bacteria out there by giving them an advantage over the weaker bacteria, but he’s probably right about the multiresistant thing.

Anyway, antibacterials are bad for reasons other than creating resistant bacteria. Which I talk about in this video I made to raise awareness, and for funzies 🙂

Why I am Anti Antibacterials from Captain Skellett on Vimeo.

There were a couple of other things he said which I thought were fantastic. Like that biology is not an exact science. Physics can calculate how to get to the moon, and it will work everytime (excluding Apollo 11 of course) because the moon doesn’t dodge. Bacteria do. With antibacterials we’ve created an environment where evolution steps in and resistance can develop. It’s particularly bad because drug discovery takes about 10 years to take a drug from conception to sale, and bacteria evolve a lot faster than that.

Also, you know how you have e-coli naturally in your gut which help you digest food (I distinctly remember my microbiology teacher telling us that poop was just e-coli with a little bit of colour.) Did you ever wonder where they came from? When you’re born you are e-coli free, the womb is a very sterile environment, but somewhere along the line in the first few weeks you get a whole colony of e-coli. You don’t usually hear people discussing babies, mothers and feces, but that’s the gist of it…

Captain Skellett

I be Captain Skellett. Me blog started in April 2009 when I was working full time and didn’t get a chance to talk science. Now I have changed jobs and talk science all the time, but that doesn’t stop me blogging. More About Captain Skellett   Google


5 Responses to “Why I am Anti Antibacterials”

  1. Lab Rat says:

    ah-ha…ye be on my turf now skellet!
    OMG THE VIDEO WAS AWESOME! I loved, LOVED the little paper animation bacteria…they were so good, that worked really well as an explanation technique (‘win at life’ lol). The resistance gene travelling down the pili was my favourite, could have been slightly closer up though, so the awesomeness was more obvious.

    As far as the message of the content goes, you are dead right about hospitals, they are bacterial BOOT CAMP. They get sprayed, anti-microbed, sterilised, all kinds of horrors. The ones that survive that are going to be deadly. And of course they get to mix with other deadly bacteria, and also other non-deadly bacteria, such as the non-pathogenic strains that live behind the sinks and are resistant to EVERYTHING.

    As far as antimicrobial soap goes, I tend to have a bottle in the kitchen for when I end up touching raw meat (or, more accurately, when my other half touches raw meat as I tend not to do a lot of the cooking heh). Other than that, I mostly go for the ‘added moisturiser’ soap over antibacterial stuff.

    Captain Skellett Reply:

    Bacterial boot camp – love it! Should have done a picture of THAT! I never thought about non-pathogenic, multi-resistant bacteria mixing with pathogenic bacteria like that before. Match made in heaven (if you’re idea of heaven is multi-resistant killer bacteria that is.)

    Tom – you’re right. Antibacterails probably won’t cause the apocalypse. My money is on zombies.

  2. Tom says:

    Anti bacteriasl “will cause the apocalypse”? Oh brother. Even more alarmist than the antibacterial movement.

  3. linz says:

    love the video – great work.

    Captain Skellett Reply:

    Thanks mum! I know you weren’t impressed with the viagra one ‘cos it was “too sexy” lol.

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