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Triclosan aids nasal invasions by staph

The antimicrobial compound found in soaps and toothpaste may help infectious bacteria stick around

ANTIBACTERIAL BACKFIRE  Soaps that contain triclosan, a commonly used antimicrobial compound, could actually help disease-causing bacteria colonize the human nose. 

Sneezing out antimicrobial snot may sound like a superpower, but it actually could be a handicap.

Triclosan, an omnipresent antimicrobial compound found in products ranging from soaps and toothpaste to medical equipment, is already known to show up in people’s urine, serum and breast milk. It seeps in through ingestion or skin exposure. Now, researchers have found that it gets into snot, too. And in the schnoz, triclosan seems to help the disease-causing bacteria Staphylococcus aureus instead of killing the microbes.

Microbiologist Blaise Boles, of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues swabbed the noses of 90 adults and found that having triclosan-containing snot could double a person’s likelihood of carrying staph. The microbes may have adapted to triclosan, allowing them to remain steadfast in the nose. The results appeared April 8 in mBio.

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