Soap and water vital in the battle against antibiotic resistance
The spread of a “key strain” of E. coli is the focus of a comprehensive study undertaken by Public Health England which checked “thousands of blood, faecal and food samples”. Their conclusion was a clear one – that inadequate hand washing practices rather than inadequately cooked food, is the main cause, according to a recent report on the BBC website.
E. coli comes in many forms, says the article. Whereas many are harmless, some can cause significant illness. Worryingly, antibiotic resistance is becoming more common.
“Strains which have Extended Spectrum Beta-Lactamases (ESBLs) – enzymes that destroy penicillin and another antibiotic, cephalosporin – are causing particular concern.”
Hand washing after going to the toilet most important
The study which was published in Lancet: Infectious Diseases identified one strain, ST131 which can cause serious infections, and was seen in “the majority of human samples”.
The article quotes University of East Anglia’s Norwich Medical School’s Prof David Livermore who led the research. He is quoted as saying that whilst food hygiene is important with regard to E. coli containment, toilet hygiene should be given the highest priority.
“Here – in the case of ESBL-E. coli – it’s much more important to wash your hands after going to the toilet.”
Care home concern
Prof Livermore also raised particular concerns about the need for effective hand hygiene in care homes.
“It’s particularly important to have good hygiene in care homes, as most of the severe E. coli infections occur among the elderly, and people may need help going to the toilet.”