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.
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?