Are you a dog owner? If yes, beware of the germs your best pal is bringing home. According to a latest study, home pets bring along several germs and bacteria which you may be totally unaware off.

A new research conducted by the researchers of the North Carolina State University and the University of Colorado found that the homes without pets have far less bacterial count than those with dogs. The germs found in homes with dogs were rarely found in households without the dogs.

According to the study co-author, Rob Dunn, associate professor of biology at the NC state , the germs and bacteria in a house with dogs can be easily spotted on the television screen or the pillow case.

He stated, “We can tell whether you own a dog based on the bacteria we find on your television screen or pillowcase,”.

Study details:
During the research, around 40 homes were inspected. Dunn along with his colleagues used sterile swabs to wipe 9 of the most common surfaces in every household. This included the TV screens, kitchen counters, toilet seats, refrigerators, pillowcases and door handles.

As part of the investigation process, experts detected almost 7,700 different types of bacteria present in the different surfaces tested. Areas which involved food like the kitchen counters, refrigerators and cutting boards were thriving with similar bacteria. On the other hand, door knobs, pillow cases and the toilet seats exhibited the kind of bacteria, mostly being brought by humans.

Rob Dunn explained, “We leave a microbial ‘fingerprint’ on everything we touch, Sometimes those microbes come from our skin, sometimes they’re oral bacteria and as often as not they’re human fecal bacteria.”

Difference between house with dogs and house without:
The most important factor which differentiates the bacterial count in all those investigated houses was whether you owned a dog or not. The commonly found bacteria from the soil was 700 times more evident in houses with dogs than those without the animal.

According to the study, there are three wide classifications of the types of bacteria found in homes. The 3 groups can be categorised as ” habitats” and are as follows: 1) Places touched by people 2)Places touched by food and 3)Places that collects dust.

The bacteria found in any one of the three habitats would almost be similar in different homes than the bacteria found in different habitats in the same home. This was the implication of the study conducted by Dunn and his colleagues.

Dunn stated, “Humans have been living in houses for thousands of years, which is sufficient time for organisms to adapt to living in particular parts of houses. We know, for example, that there is a species that only lives in hot-water heaters. We deposit these bacterial hitchhikers in different ways in different places, and they thrive or fail depending on their adaptations.”

Further research needed
To substantiate their findings, the researchers plan to conduct the study again involving another 40 homes. They also intend using the samples by the national survey which would collect the data of almost 1300 homes across the country.

Dunn concluded, “The larger sample size will help us better understand the range of variables that influence these microbial ecosystems, Does it matter if you have kids or live in an apartment? We expect the microbial populations of homes in deserts to be different from the populations of homes in Manhattan, but no one knows if that’s true. We want to find out.”

The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE on May 22.

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