Unhealthy populations: Nose boring spreads dangerous bacteria
Although it is generally considered unsanitary, not only children but also many adults pop in the nose from time to time. This can help spread dangerous bacteria, as shown in a study by British scientists.
Life-threatening diseases caused by widespread bacteria
Pneumococci are bacteria that can be found in many people in the mouth, nose and throat - mostly without causing an illness. However, if the immune system cannot keep the pathogens at bay, they can spread and cause infections such as sinus infection or otitis media. However, potentially life-threatening diseases such as meningitis and blood poisoning can also be caused by these bacteria. And a large part of pneumonia is caused by pneumococci. So far, it has been assumed that the pathogens are transmitted by droplet infection. However, a study suggests that rubbing the nose and nasal congestion contribute significantly to the spread of pneumococci.
Children are the main transmitters
As the UK researchers explained, understanding pneumococcal transmission is important because more than 1.2 million infant deaths are due to the bacteria.
"We know that children have pneumococci in their noses much more often than adults, and other studies have shown that children are the main transmitters of these bacteria in the community," said Dr. Victoria Connor of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and the Royal Liverpool Hospital, according to a contribution by the journal "Healio".
"Therefore, the study results in adults are likely to be of great importance for children."
The study was published in the European Respiratory Journal.
Easier transmission of pneumococci in a damp environment
Between April and May 2017, the scientists placed pneumococci on the fingertip or the back of the hand in 40 healthy adult participants to achieve their results.
Once the bacteria were administered, the subjects were instructed to either sniff the bacteria or make direct contact with the surface of the nasal mucosa, similar to nasal drilling or rubbing the nose.
The contact with the bacteria took place while the solution was still moist or one to two minutes after the pneumococci had been applied.
Nine days later, Connor and her colleagues observed bacterial colonization in 20 percent of the participants who were given pneumococci.
Those who were asked to touch their nose with a moist bacterial solution had the highest colonization rate (40 percent), followed by those who were asked to sniff the moist bacterial solution on the back of their hands (30 percent).
According to the researchers, the bacterial colonization was significantly lower with the same procedure with a dry bacterial substance. It was only ten percent for the "nose drills" and there was no bacterial detection at all for the "hand sniffers".
It was easier to transfer the pneumococci in the humid environment.
Pay attention to consistent hand hygiene
Connor said that adult hands can spread bacteria, and this can be important if they come into contact with children and the elderly with weakened immune systems.
The researcher suggested that adults should pay particular attention to consistent hand hygiene when they come into contact with these population groups.
In addition, toys and surfaces should be cleaned regularly to reduce the likelihood of transmission.
"For parents, this study shows that pneumococci are likely to spread through the hands, which is important when children come into contact with older relatives or relatives with impaired immune systems," said Connor.
"In such situations, good hand hygiene and cleaning of toys and surfaces would reduce transmission."
Preventive vaccination could also be useful.
The health insurance companies bear the costs for all persons to whom the Standing Vaccination Committee (STIKO) recommends pneumococcal vaccination: for children up to two years and adults over 60 as well as immunodeficient people and people with certain chronic diseases.
Pneumococcal vaccination is carried out with a dead vaccine that can be injected in parallel with others, for example with the flu vaccine - but not in the same arm or thigh.
Children up to two years are vaccinated against pneumococci three times in certain months of life.
This is also possible at the same time as another Pikser such as the six-fold vaccination (against diphtheria, tetanus (tetanus), polio), whooping cough (pertussis), Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) and hepatitis B). (ad)