IPAC-Canada releases statement on antibacterial agents in hand soap

WINNIPEG, Dec. 19, 2013 /CNW/ - IPAC-Canada has issued a statement in response to public concern over the emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria creating a perceived need for hand soaps that incorporate antibacterial agents.

"There is no evidence to suggest that these agents reduce infections in the home," said IPAC-Canada President Bruce Gamage. "Antibacterial agents alter the mix of naturally occurring bacteria killing susceptible organisms and potentially leaving the organisms resistant to that agent to survive and multiply.

"Furthermore, the incorporation of low levels of antimicrobial agents, which do not kill the bacteria, may further promote the development of resistance. Apart from concerns of environmental contamination from these agents, most of these products are expensive and play on the public's fears of contracting an infection caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria."

IPAC-Canada, formerly CHICA-Canada, also iterated that, in fact, the most common household illnesses are viral in nature, for which antibacterial agents are ineffective. The public's focus should continue to be on frequent hand cleaning with plain soap, safe food preparation, good personal hygiene, and basic home cleanliness.

Antibacterial soap should not be confused with alcohol-based hand rubs which contain ethyl alcohol, which are effective in killing most germs, including bacteria and viruses, on the surfaces of hands. Alcohol-based hand rubs do not contain chemicals that are harmful to the environment and do not promote the development of resistance. These products can be used as an effective alternative to hand washing with plain soap and water as long as hands are not visibly soiled.

Within the healthcare setting, for the most part, plain soap is used for hand cleaning. Antibacterial soap may be considered for use in critical care areas such as intensive care and burn units where patients are highly susceptible to infection. Antibacterial soap is not required and not recommended in other care areas.

About IPAC-Canada

IPAC-Canada, formerly CHICA-Canada, is a national, multi-disciplinary, voluntary association of Infection Prevention and Control Professionals (ICPs) with 22 chapters across the country dedicated to the health of Canadians by promoting excellence in the practice of infection prevention and control. Visit IPAC-Canada's website (www.chica.org) for infection prevention and control information.

SOURCE: Infection Prevention and Control Canada

For further information:

Media Contact

Gerry Hansen, Executive Director, IPAC-Canada
Tel: 1-204-897-5990/1-866-999-7111 Email: executivedirector@ipac-canada.org

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Infection Prevention and Control Canada

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