herald

Monday 11 December 2017

How open windows can beat lethal bugs

LESSONS earned from Florence Nightingale could prevent the spread of harmful bugs by allowing "friendly" bacteria into hospitals, says an expert.

Sterile conditions in wards and operating theatres may be doing more harm than good by wiping out organisms that keep dangerous microbes at bay, Dr Jack Gilbert believes.

Florence Nightingale, the 19th century "mother" of modern nursing, advocated cleanliness, but also plentiful fresh air.

Dr Gilbert, who heads an international project on the world's known bugs, thinks she was right.

He said it was well known that beneficial bacteria, or "flora" in the intestinal tract help to ward off infection.

Dr Gilbert, based at the Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago, said: "If you try to wipe out that good bacterial community with sterilisation agents and excessive antibiotic use you lay waste to this green field of protective layer."

hnews@herald.ie

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