Current hygiene practices increase our contraction of infectious disease. We have all seen the signs on the bathroom door or next to the sink that reads “employees must wash hands.” This signifies that OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) recognizes the importance of washing your hands after using the restroom. If this sign is abided by, customers are put at ease when eating at their favorite restaurant or buying muffins from their local baker. Customers can be rest assured that they are not going to contract some vile food bourn illness that will knock them out of commission for days. We forget about the dish rag that has been used all day to wipe the counters, or the bench seats at the diner that haven’t been cleaned properly. There is a growing need to address the way we clean and the products we use to clean. This extends to the antibiotics we take to “clean” our bodies and the antibiotics we use to treat the animals we eat.

The invention of penicillin awarded Alexander Fleming the noble prize. Fleming warned during his acceptance speech that the overuse of antibiotics would lead to a decline in their effectiveness. This overuse happens when bacteria evolve to have stronger defenses against certain antibiotics. The overuse is dangerous because as we take more antibiotics, bacteria are getting stronger and more likely to have a defense against the very thing meant to kill them. Today we are seeing an increased awareness to antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria. Immuno-compromised persons are at an increased risk due to their susceptibility to bacterial infection. This population consists of elderly and children as well as any person with an existing condition that would weaken their bodies ability to fight infection. Compounding these issues are those of improper hygiene among people that service these immune-compromised people.

According to The American Journal of Infection Control we should be taking a “risk-based approach” to hygiene. Knowing which cleaning products to use and when to use them is crucial to appropriate hygiene. Author, Sally F. Bloomfield says, “detergent-based cleaning can be used to break the chain of infection, in some cases an antimicrobial agent is required,” in an article titled, A Risk Assessment Approach to use of Antimicrobials in the Home to Prevent Spread of Infection. At one time the idea of using an antimicrobial  agent in the home was unnecessary but with a growing  immune-compromised populations that is receiving similar care in home as they once saw in a hospital it is becoming more crucial.This crucial step breaks the chain of the bacteria and allows for the person in contact with a once infected surface to know be safe from any bacterial infection. In addition to this step being crucial for the reduction of an infection, it also limits the use of antibiotics to treat an infection. By limiting the use of the antibiotics, we see a reduction in the risk for antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria.

Along with direct use of antibiotics in humans for treatment, the United States meat industry began using antibiotics both as a tool to keep animals from getting sick and as a tool to aid in weight gain. This practice is adding to the inappropriate hygiene practices. Maryn Mckenna writes in an article titled Drugs: gut response?, that “By saturating the environment with antibiotic residues, Blaser argues, we have effectively recreated that weight-gain programme in humans — and the result has been the seemingly unstoppable increase in obesity, especially in children.” This article is from the International Journal of Science. Mckenna is reviewing an article written by Martin J. Blaser on how the overuse of antibiotics is “Fueling our modern plagues”. Essentially, we are contaminating our food now with a product that was meant to treat infection. In doing so we are seeing a similar response in humans that these farmers see in their animals such as weight gain. Weight gain has many health repercussions on its own and now add to that the use of the antibiotics effecting efficiency when a person is ill. On top of the now sometimes inefficient antibiotics, Blaser discusses the idea that the overuse of antibiotics is destroying healthy benign bacteria that are necessary for normal, healthy, human function.


It appears that we are at a boiling point. With things like resistant bacteria and a growing immune-compromised population it is crucial that we begin to make strides in practicing appropriate hygiene. Don’t let that sign in the bathroom fool you. Just washing your hands is not enough. Appropriate hygiene goes beyond hand-washing.

3 thoughts on “Definition—Marvel”

  1. Marvel, I’m going to make only brief comments here because I want to devote my overnight hours to helping your classmates with the deadline-sensitive Causal Arguments, but I’ll leave this post in the Feedback Please category to remind me to return.

    One thing I notice in your fine opening paragraph (which, by the way, makes good use of cows and chips), is the difficulty we readers have figuring out whether you want us to focus more on the danger of illness or our reasonable efforts to avoid it. Your claims lean both ways. There is value to this nuance if I understand your position correctly, but also danger that we’ll just be frustrated and therefore convinced of nothing.

    You tell me I can “rest assured” just before you tell me to “forget about that dirty dish rag,” which of course makes me obsess on that rag.

    See what I mean?


  2. I do see what you mean. The statement was more of a sarcastic one, meant for the reader to question the rag, I have changed the wording to be more apparent in its purpose.
    I appreciate your feedback despite my falling behind on the deadline. I have since submitted or much more complete draft and would love additional feedback when you can.


  3. Let’s talk strategy, Marvel. Your first paragraph wavers between optimism and panic to no apparent effect. Weighing your claims on a balance, the overall message appears slightly to warn us that hygiene might not be as second-nature as we wish.

    We shouldn’t be in doubt. Imagine a team that raced out onto the field to a thunderous voiceover proclaiming that “We’re somewhere between Number 3 and Number 5 depending on which poll you find most credible!”

    The trouble begins in your first sentence. (By the way, you can dispute these bald assertions at any time.) Sure, hygiene is crucial. But what’s “appropriate hygiene”? You sow doubt immediately instead of shouting out: We’re in danger here!

    Read your opening paragraph again and tell me whether, as you read it, every sentence contributes to an argument that our hygiene is at risk in every transaction that occurs in a public restaurant.

    Whatever the argument, every sentence should contribute.

    Eliminate the shifting focus (what we see, what OSHA recognizes, what employees do, what customers expect, what customers forget, how employees behave, what the public requires, what we do at home, what we do in our bathrooms, how we raise livestock) and concentrate on a single powerful effective illustration of the very thing that convinces readers there’s a problem.

    I make these comments out of respect for your obvious ability, Marvel. You could so easily overhaul this paragraph to suit your actual goal.

    Let me offer an example. We go to the donut place where the clerk is wearing a hair net and a pair of latex gloves to protect against hand contamination while transferring our dozen donuts into the takeaway carton. We’re momentarily at ease until our clerk handles the display-case handle, brings in trays from the kitchen, pulls a mop and a wash-bucket from under the counter, rings up our order on the cash register, handles cash from the till, rubs her eyes, smooths back her hair from her face, and wets her index finger with her tongue to count singles . . . all with those gloves we at first felt meant her hands were hygienic.

    An opening paragraph that stayed focused on those gloves would much more successfully indicate your premise that the efforts we take to maintain hygiene are insufficient.

    After that, you can nuance your position to claim that:
    1. Hygiene is impossible, OR
    2. Laws to improve hygiene are cynical, OR
    3. Our efforts to stay germ-free are ludicrous, OR
    4. We actually endanger ourselves by routinely “disinfecting,” OR
    5. Germs LOVE the approach we take to eliminating them, OR . . . .

    But first you must establish your position, ideally with a vivid illustration, that something is wrong with our current approach.

    Does this make sense?
    Respond with substantial objections or revisions if you want to put your post back into the Feedback Please category.

    Reactions please?


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