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Letters from students about pinkeye on campus

June 7, 2002

While Ms. Carter may trace the outbreak of conjunctivitis to a penny-wise, pound-foolish appropriations policy, it is a testament to the wisdom of the administration that they have elected to refrain from stocking the campus washrooms with (her suggestion) antibacterial soap. Unmoderated use of antibacterial soap has resulted in an explosion of pathogenic, antibacterial-resistant bacteria. The worst of these strains flourish in the presence of antibiotic soaps, which kill the harmless microbes that usually compete with (and crowd out) the malignant varieties.

Antibacterial soaps ought to be reserved for the elderly, the very young, those with weakened immune systems, and those who come into contact with them. The hale student body of Princeton would do well to fight disease naturally, without resorting to the Phyrric tactic of antibacterial soap.

Joseph Barillari ’04
Princeton University

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March 24, 2002

We all know that conjunctivitis and gastroenteritis are spread by hand-eye and hand-mouth contact, respectively. In the wake of these epidemics, some folks around the University have taken to putting up signs reminding students to wash their hands. Do we really need to be reminded? Well, maybe. But I think there's another culprit here.

After one of many trips to my dorm bathroom during my latest bout with gastroenteritis, I decided to do a little research. Much to my surprise, I found that the liquid hand soap in every campus bathroom (Kimberly-Clark's Triangle® Lotion Cleanser) is not an antibacterial formula.

I can't help but feel a bit betrayed by the folks who put up those signs. I've washed my hands so diligently during the recent pink-eye epidemic, but the whole time I've just been rubbing the germs around (and leaving them smelling like Triangle® Lotion Cleanser, which frankly doesn't smell very good). Great.

I challenge the University to call its distributor and switch to Kimberly-Clark's Antibacterial Clear Skin Cleanser. It's probably more expensive, but on the margin, the savings to Princeton University Health Services would make it more than worthwhile. What are we waiting for?

Jennifer Carter ’03
Princeton University

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