Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Might Be Hiding in Your Home — Especially if You Have a Pet

No matter how many times you clean a surface, it’s inevitable that it will get dirty again. You might sanitize your phone after taking it out in public, but the moment you put it on your counter top or drop it on the floor, it’s infected with millions of bacteria all over again. While bacteria are normal and necessary to live, there are certain types of bacteria that are antibiotic resistant — and extremely dangerous. And now, scientists have discovered they may be all over your home.

dog water bowl

Your pet may be the reason you get a dangerous bacterial infection. | alex_ugalek/Getty Images

What are antibiotic-resistant bacteria?

To put it simply, they’re exactly as they sound: Resistant to antibiotics. When you get an infection, antibiotics are used to kill off the bad bacteria that are causing your illness. But with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, such as MRSA, those typical antibiotics don’t work. This means that if you have a weak immune system and face difficulty fighting off infections, MRSA can be fatal.

Scientists recently discovered MRSA hiding out in pets’ water bowls

It may not come as a surprise that water bowls harbor bacteria. After all, they’re constantly moist and might spend most of their time in dark laundry rooms or closets. But a recent study found that deadly bacteria including E. coli, salmonella, and even MRSA were found in pets’ water bowls and pose a lethal danger to our furry friends. Plus, these bacteria can make their way to humans, since it’s a human’s job to refill that water bowl. Plus, we always show our pets love by hugging and kissing them. This poses a serious threat to us, too. It’s imperative to establish a cleaning routing to make sure the dog bowl is staying free from these dangerous bacteria. Ideally, the bowls should be cleaned every day.

But households are also ‘major reservoirs’ for the bacteria

Besides the water bowls, other areas of the home were found to be infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, too. Researchers have called homes “major reservoirs” for this type of bacteria, since it’s nearly impossible to pristinely scrub every surface in the home. About 1 in 3 people carry antibiotic-resistant bacteria in their nose, but they don’t always get sick from it. However, these bacteria can still spread to other surfaces. And if someone in the home gets infected, nearly everything they touch will harbor the bacteria. Unless a serious deep cleaning of every single surface is done (which is unlikely), it’s nearly impossible to prevent these bacteria from multiplying all over the home.

It’s important to only take antibiotics if you need them — and take the full dose

The reason antibiotic-resistant bacteria are becoming so common is because antibiotics are used more than ever. Half of all prescribed antibiotics aren’t necessary, which means people are receiving antibiotics when they don’t need them. That helps the bacteria build up resistance, which makes medication less effective the next time around. If your doctor doesn’t think you need antibiotics, don’t push for them. And if you are prescribed that medication, make sure you take the dosage until it is complete. Otherwise, all bacteria may not be eliminated, and they can develop a resistance to that medication.

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