While pets often suffer blame for spreading germs to humans, keeping furry friends around could actually boost the human immune system against threats like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
“While pets can be MRSA vectors, they often get it from people first,” says veterinarian Meghan Davis, PhD, MPH, an assistant professor in Environmental Health Sciences of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Her research found a protective effect against MRSA colonization for families with 2 or more pets.
While the why isn’t yet clear, pets appear to contribute microbial diversity to the household, more benefiting their owners. Among pet-owning MRSA patients, Davis’s research uncovered more MRSA on household surfaces than in family pets.
Salma Warshanna-Sparklin for Johns Hopkins Public Health Magazine