overall human health

Many interventions, protocols, and prevention methods are used to maintain or improve overall human health. The aim of some is to improve quality of life, while others specifically reduce, remove, or eradicate microbial pathogens which would otherwise cause disease.

Many such processes may also result in, or cause, unintended consequences to humans, pathogens, and/or the environment that were not predicted. The most well-known example is that of the rise of multiple antibiotic-resistant bacteria following the use (and overuse) of antibiotics.

Each of the papers in this discussion provides an example of interventions originally intended to improve health and prevent disease. The first paper by Alharbi et al concerns restroom electric hand dryers. The second by Nettleton et al discusses artificial sweeteners and their impact on the gut bacteria. The third is a review of the latest findings that trehalose, an artificial sweetener, may have contributed to the current disease epidemic of Clostridium difficile. Finally, McNamara and Levy discuss the current status of triclosan which was first introduced in the 1970s. A background paper which defines and reviews the Hygiene Hypothesis, by Roduit et al, is also provided.