Bacterial Time Share

April 18, 2013

Eva Gusnowski

Your body is a wonderland…for microbes. And your pet dog is the dirty rag that spreads them around.

It’s no surprise that we are covered in bacteria. Thankfully they’re so small that they are invisible to the naked eye, otherwise we would all have some serious germaphobic issues at hand. What is interesting, however, is that we all have our own “fingerprint” of bacteria that inhabit our skin.

In fact, the bacteria cells in and on a human body outnumber human cells 10:1, and the bacteria make up anywhere from 1-3% of our body weight. To put that in perspective, a normal and healthy 200 lb human contains anywhere from 2-6 pounds of bacteria. Get that image in your head, and then never forget it. Because everywhere you go, you’re shedding and spreading your “skin microbiome.” After all, mother did always tell us that we should share, right?


A group of researchers decided to look at how much we share our skin bacterial flora with our brethren; specifically they looked at how much skin bacteria was shared within a single household between co-inhabitants, both with and without man’s best friend (no, not the Xbox or the PS3, we’re referring to the furry best friend here).

They found that co-inhabitants within a single household were more likely to share a bacterial community, likely through contact with shared surfaces (including one another). Not only that, but households with a dog shared bacterial types with their furry beast and also shared more bacteria with one another when compared to households without a dog.

Oh science. Thanks for making life grosser than it ever needed to be. But it’s always nice to share. 



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