Monica and AJ's Policy Paper

The Health Hypothesis and Resistance Prevention of Triclosan
AJ King and Monica Iverson
Triclosan is a disinfectant that has come to prominence lately. It has been used in many products such as cutting boards and children toys (1). It is also used in the medicine field as baths to help get rid of MRSA. Today it is being hypothesized that this growing use of Triclosan is going to lead to resistance of the bacteria. It works by blocking the site where enzymes (enoyl-acyl carrier protein reductase enzymes) are needed to pass in fatty acid synthesis in bacteria. By blocking the site, it prevents the bacteria from synthesizing the fatty acids, which is essential for reproducing (4). Recent studies which scientists are worried about show that because triclosan’s action in the body is similar to the action of antibiotics, bacteria that become resistant to triclosan will also become resistant to antibiotics. Triclosan only kills normal bacteria and does not cause mutation in bacteria. So mutated bacteria that are resistant to Triclosan will survive and can reproduce (4). A common item that is leading to this resistance is the overuse of disinfectant wipes that contain Triclosan. This practice is common in most super markets in the last year. They have stands where a person can grab some wipes to clean the handles of their cart. This overuse should be stopped in order to help prevent the spread of resistance to Triclosan.
The Hygiene Hypothesis is the theory that better hygiene is associated with a greater risk of developing allergies or asthma. The hypothesis also explains that children in larger families were less susceptible to acquire allergic diseases, even though they are noticeably exposed to more infectious agents than children with one or no siblings at all (3).The hypothesis says that children exposed to antibacterial compounds have an increased susceptibility to allergic diseases such as asthma. Foreign substances which are in the immune system that cause reactions in the body are known as allergies. T-helper cells are used to attack these foreign antigens in the immune system (3). Allergies are caused when there is an imbalance of Th-1and Th-2 activity. For normal maturation of the immune system, these t-cells should be balanced. So, if it is true that there is an association with infections during childhood and allergies, then the extreme use antibacterials such as Triclosan can lead to the development of allergies (5).
As one microbe becomes resistant to Triclosan, it has been proven to be able to share this resistance to other microbes. This was tested using some strains of MRSA that exhibited low level resistance to Triclosan (2). As Wal-mart executives we are establishing a nationwide policy in all our stores banning the use of Triclosan infused wipes. These wipes are being used in our stores as disinfectant wipes for customers to use on our shopping carts. The overuse of these wipes we believe is a leading cause of bacterial resistance to Triclosan. We hope with this new policy the spread of the resistance slows and allows us to use Triclosan only for those who are in critical need of this disinfectant.
Enforcement of this policy will begin on November 1, 2009. Any store found in noncompliance, store managers will be suspended without pay for thirty days. To help uncover noncompliance, every store within the first thirty days of the start of this policy will have a secret shopper go through the store checking for the wipes.
In conclusion we at Wal-mart strive for the continued health of the American people. We believe in the hygiene hypothesis and the saying that a little dirt never hurt anyone. Our new policy will greatly facilitate the prevention and spread of bacterial resistance to Triclosan. We also hope that this will help benefit those who suffer from allergies or MRSA. As MRSA is a deadly disease with very few ways to cure.
1. Salyers, Abigail A., and Whitt D. Dixie. Revenge of the Microbes: How Bacterial
Resistance is Undermining the Antibiotic Miracle. N.p.: ASM Press, 2005.
2. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy (2006). 46, 11-18. The British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.
3. Hackett, Charles J., Offit, Paul A. Addressing Parents’ Concerns: Do Vaccines Cause Allergic or Autoimmune Diseases? (2004) Pediatrics.
4. Glaser, Aviva. The Ubiquitous Triclosan. C. 2004. P. 12-16. Pesticides and You.
5. Allen, Upton. Antimicrobial products in the home: The evolving problem of antibiotic resistance. C. 2006 169-173. Paediatrics & Child Health.

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