It isn’t exactly surprising anymore when studies are released showing that the most common household items tend to carry the most bacteria — but new research conducted by medical experts at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, WA shows that the type of bacteria carried on these items is more worrisome than the amount of bacteria. This research, published in JAMA Pediatrics on September 8, shows that the strain MRSA (Staphylococcus aureus), which happens to be resistant to most antibiotics, is very prevalent on common household items.
In the past, this bacterial strain seemed to be “caught” by patients who were already in hospital environments; now, however, the latest research shows that this bacteria is often found in homes with children and/or pets.
The items most often found to be contaminated by MRSA, according to the study, are bed sheets, television remote controls, and bathroom hand towels — in other words, household items that are used fairly often by every member living in the house. And because MRSA is methicillin-resistant (i.e., resistant to most antibiotics), researchers have noted that obsessively cleaning your house doesn’t seem likely to reduce the chance of MRSA contamination.
Of course, it never hurts to make sure that these items are kept as sterile as possible; after all, MRSA isn’t the only strain of bacteria that prefers to live on household and office items that are used on a daily basis. Even though a few lingering cracker crumbs on your TV remote aren’t likely to lead to a life-threatening bacterial illness, it never hurts to take extra precautions when cleaning, and to replace items, like remote controls, if you notice that a significant amount of dirt and dust has collected in areas that can’t be cleaned easily.
“It is widely known, for example, that the dirtiest part of the hotel room is the remote control. A best practice at home would be to wipe down the remote control frequently with an antibacterial wipe. The issue is the cracks and spaces between rubber keypads are ideal for bacterial.” Bob Wallace – President, Remotes.com
While the MRSA strain can present serious problems — especially in children — when infection occurs, it appears that the strain isn’t the most pressing health concern, according to medical experts. MRSA may not be something you’ll have to worry about on a daily basis any time soon, but it certainly has brought attention to the fact that bacteria tend to live on the items we use most often, and that proper cleaning of these items can reduce infections and illnesses.