Saturday, 25 May 2013

Dogs Bring Swarm of Bacteria Into Your Home

Your loyal pooch may be bringing a whole world of bacteria into your home — but don't panic. Research suggests that exposure to a wide variety of microbes may be good for us.

A new study reveals that homes with dogs have greater bacterial diversity than canine-free dwellings. Dog-related diversity is particularly high on television screens and pillowcases, the researchers found.

"When you bring a dog into your house, you are not just bringing a dog, you are also introducing a suite of dog-associated [microbe] taxa directly into your home environment, some of which may have direct or indirect effects on human health," the researchers wrote today (May 22) in the journal PLOS ONE.

Microbes around us
The microbes in our environment are the subject of increased interest by scientists, thanks to studies revealing how intertwined human lives are with those of the single-celled. Skin microbes, for example, may be key for warding off disease. And the load of microbes living in the human gut may influence everything from immunity to obesity.

North Carolina State University biologist Rob Dunn and his colleagues wanted to step back from the body to better understand the microbes in our environment at large. They gave 40 families a home-sampling kit and asked them to swab down nine locations in their houses: a kitchen cutting board, a kitchen counter, a refrigerator shelf, a toilet seat, a pillowcase, a television screen, the main door's exterior handle and the upper trim on both an interior door and on an exterior door. The researchers then examined the microbial DNA from the swabs to detect different families of microscopic tenants living on these surfaces.

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