So – just was reading this paper: Healthcare Workers’ Hand Microbiome May Mediate Carriage of Hospital Pathogens. Basically, they showed that the microbiome on health care worker’s hands was correlated with estimates of pathogen carriage. And, it seems to be of potential interest to the microBEnet community. I confess, I am skeptical of the validity of some of the claims in the paper such as this from the Conclusions:
In summary, our primary finding was that after correcting for individual risk of exposure to the selected potential pathogens, differences in carriage of these potential pathogens might be attributed to the structure of the hand microbial community.
The issue I have with this and some other claims is that I think the evidence is really about a correlative vs. causative connection. Thus the term “attributed to” seems inappropriate. They do caveat this in other parts of the paper:
However, a limitation of this study is the directionality of the association between carriage of potential pathogens and HCW hand microbiota. That is, it may be that the hand microbiota is itself a result of the carriage of certain pathogens or that both the microbiota and the carriage of specific potential pathogens are associated with yet another factor.
Anyway – whether or not one believes their conclusions about possible causal impacts of hand microbiomes on pathogen transmission in a hospital, I think the data presented here is enough to convince me that studies of transmission in hospitals might want to include analyses of health care workers skin microbiomes in the future.