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article imageHomes with dogs have more varied types of bacteria

By Tim Sandle     May 27, 2013 in Health
A new "citizen science" study has shown that households with dogs are home to more types of bacteria - including bacteria that are rarely found in households that do not have dogs.
The objective of the new study was to advance understanding of different microorganisms and how they interact with people in different habitats. The particular focus of the new research was in households with one or more dogs as a family pet.
The research team concluded, from gathering many samples from different homes, they can tell if a household owned a dog based on the bacteria found on the television screen or pillow case. For example, there are bacteria normally found in soil that are 700 times more common in dog-owning households than in those without dogs.
These findings could also be of greater importance than simple scientific curiosity. It has been shown, for instance, that women who have a dog in the home when pregnant are less likely to have children with allergies (which links to what is referred to as the ‘hygiene hypothesis’ and early exposure to ‘germs’ by an infant).
The hygiene hypothesis states that a lack of early childhood exposure to infectious agents, symbiotic microorganisms (e.g., gut flora or probiotics), and parasites increases susceptibility to allergic diseases by suppressing natural development of the immune system.
Another interesting aspect of the research is that the data was generated by ‘citizen scientists’. Citizen scientists in 40 homes sampled nine common surfaces to help researchers determine what kinds of bacteria lived there.
The researchers are currently processing samples from another 40 homes, and are preparing to process samples from a national survey of 1,300 homes across the United States..
The research was conducted at the North Carolina State University and the University of Colorado. The research has been published in the journal PLoS One and the paper is titled “Home Life: Factors Structuring the Bacterial Diversity Found within and between Homes.”
More about Dogs, Bacteria, Health, Diversity, microbiome
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