Science Caturday: Bring Your Own Bacteria


Big cool microbiologist Jack Gilbert (and a bunch of his smartest colleagues) just published a paper in Science which reveals that, like Pigpen, every human lives in a unique cloud of germs that we carry with us wherever we go.

This microbial profile, or “germ fingerprint”, is transferred to your living space remarkably quickly.  “No matter what you do to clean a hotel room,” Gilbert said, “your microbial signal has wiped out basically every trace of the previous resident within hours.”

The study, part of the Home Microbiome Project, sampled seven families, including 18 people, three dogs and a cat. Three of the families moved during the study, so the researchers tested two houses plus hotel rooms for each of them. The volunteers swabbed their hands, noses and feet, as well as floors, counters and other surfaces in their homes.

As nifty as this research is, we strongly disagree with one of Gilbert’s recommendations: he encourages people to get a dog. He told the Washington Post: “We saw dogs acting as a super-charged conduit,” he said, “transferring bacteria between one human and another, and bringing in outdoor bacteria. They just run around distributing microbes all willy-nilly.” Well, of course they do, as they slobber and shed. Science Caturday says:


 You deserve better. Get a cat.

Author: michelebanks1

Artist and blogger

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