Are germs sneaking into your home on the bottom of your shoes?

By Haley Hernandez - Health Reporter

All day, you're in and out of hallways, bathrooms, where you eat and where you sleep. What are your shoes bringing in with you?

Dr. Kevin Garey from the University of Houston is leading research to find out how harmful it is to wear shoes inside our homes. 

Garey started testing the shoes and homes of his own students and of their friends. He even swabbed the shoes of health reporter Haley Hernandez.

He said the majority of tests had relatively harmless germs. However, he said a significant number of participants were walking around with the bacteria Clostridium difficile, also referred to as C-diff.

“When you are at risk, you should be aware of this. If you're elderly, if you've recently been hospitalized,” Garey said the bacteria, which could be on your shoes and therefore tracked into your home, could harm this vulnerable population.

C-diff does not harm a healthy person, according to Garey. People with weak immune systems can become ill or die if exposed to this particular bacteria.

Therefore, the message is, if you're visiting someone sick, or bringing someone home from the hospital, Garey said to be aware the bacteria may be present inside your home or car, and likely on your shoes.

He suggests normal cleaning or removing shoes before you visit a vulnerable person.

Garey said, according to his research, places in homes that are most likely to be contaminated are your doorsteps or high-traffic areas where you rarely clean.

“That's actually where you're most likely to find our particular bug c-diff and other germs like this and then in going to areas that you clean more often: your table tops, your toilet, you don't see it as much ironically enough because you clean it more often and get rid of it,” he said.

 

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