Summary morning session Hygiene Forum 2017

Targeted hygiene key for a health future

Looking back on a very useful, educational and inspiring Hygiene Forum 2017, one main conclusion comes to mind: instead of worrying about being 'too clean' or about the unsubstantiated link between biocide use and antibiotics resistance, we need to start focussing on 'targeted hygiene': hygiene practices applied at the most critical points and at critical times to break the chain of infection.

Dr. John Hines (Deb Group) already referred to this principle after a very interesting look at how hygiene has evolved through the ages: from a matter of life and death and it's development into a true science to a false sense of comfort that has led to an undeserved decrease in focus on hygiene. Prof. dr. Sally Bloomfield (IFH) followed by putting the misnomer 'hygiene hypothesis' in perspective, explaining that the most likely causes of the rise of allergic diseases in early childhood are not increased hygiene or being 'too clean'. This hypothesis is undermining confidence in hygiene at a time where we should instead invest in improving public hygiene and good hygiene practices.

That the general public can improve its hygiene practices was reiterated by prof. dr. Markus Egert (Furtwangen University) whose microbiome analysis of used kitchen sponges indicated how fast a sponge becomes filled with bacteria. While it needs to be determined whether this can be seen as 'friendly' microbial diversity or a dangerous bulk of pathogens, it is recommended to replace sponges at least once a week.

Closing the morning session, prof. dr. Andrew McBain (University of Manchester) and dr. Bernhard Meyer (Ecolab) shared the view that, based on scientific evidence, we needn't worry about a link between the use of biocides and an increase in resistance to antibiotics. We just need to make sure biocides are used at the right time and place, following the proper use procedures indicated on the label – in other words, targeted hygiene.