The article has been automatically translated into English by Google Translate from Russian and has not been edited.

Expert opinion: how dangerous it is to walk around the house in shoes


Source: Vice

The final word on whether you can really get sick if you bring a bunch of bacteria into the house on your shoes.

Photo: Shutterstock

You have always been a little germofob. Your hermetically sealed home is the magical land of disinfectants, antibacterial soap and air purifiers, writes Vice... Suppose you invite friends over to your book club meeting (don't worry, everyone else hasn't read the book either), and one of your friends walks into your immaculate home in almost new sneakers. She goes to the kitchen to see how you are with the wine, and you let out a chilling cry: "Take off your clothes!"

She has not even had time to go nuts from your reaction, and you are already embarking on a worthy Meryl Streep monologue that her shoes are replete with E. coli, staphylococcus, clostridia, toxins, microbes, viruses and all kinds of other dirt. Your friend clumsily takes off her shoes in a display of different socks and hides in shame in the living room, where your reading brothers and sisters hurriedly bare their legs so as not to be scolded.

Are there really so many bacteria on the shoes?

Yes. Your shoes are covered with bacteria, viruses, germs and parasites. But this is not so important if you do not live in a sterile laboratory, because they live on everything that is in your home, and even on yourself.

In 2016, a study by scientists from the University of Arizona shocked the germophobic world with the report that the average shoe sole contains 421 bacteria, and 000 percent of these bacteria transfer directly to a clean tile floor at the first touch. A 90 study of bacteria on shoes by the University of Houston found that more than 2017 percent of shoes carried C. diff, the bacteria that causes potentially fatal superdiarrhea. This is more than three times the amount of bacteria normally found in kitchens and bathrooms.

After reviewing the statistics of these studies, you might think that all shoes are harbingers of death, but this is still not the case. Everyone should calm down and put on their shoes again, says Amesh Adalya, a senior fellow at the Johns Hopkins Center for Medical Safety and an infectious disease expert.

"In fact, it is impossible to simply take off your shoes to significantly reduce the microbiological load in the house (and this should not have been done), because very often 99 percent of microorganisms on the planet are completely harmless," the expert says.

On the subject: 'Children sleep in shoes': a Russian mother spoke about the features of kindergartens in the United States

“It seems to me that the public often gets hung up on this desire to maintain maximum sterility everywhere without realizing that the floors in the houses are [already] teeming with microorganisms, [for example,] bacteria and viruses.”

While some of these bacteria could be harmful under certain circumstances, they are intermingled with many more bacteria that benefit us by strengthening our immune system and aiding digestion. A 2014 study that imagined an Earth without bacteria showed that it would be a grim, virus-ridden world of constipation and unprocessed biological waste. Adalya, among other things, noted that it is illogical to believe that a person who takes off his shoes while walking will not spread bacteria in the room.

“For example, people have a lot of pathogenic material on their socks,” says Adalya. - Take them off too? And there are bacteria on the skin of the feet. What are you going to do, take off your skin? I really think this is pointless and indicates a misunderstanding that micro-organisms are hosting the planet. There is no reason for over-sterilization."

A recent study of the most germ-and-bacteria-infested areas in your home has found some that your shoes or bare feet probably don't even get close to. A 2011 study by NSF International named the favorite hangout spots for bacterial colonies, including Salmonella and E. coli, kitchen sinks, cutting boards, kitchen counters, sponges and toothbrush glasses.

So bacteria on street shoes might be good?

Bacteria exist almost everywhere, and that is good. A study conducted in the 2014 year suggested that life on Earth would continue in the absence of microbes, but only in an “unimaginably deplorable” way. However, Adalya says: if your immune system is not weakened due to illness, you do not need to start drenching your kitchen with bleach.

"By taking samples in different places in someone's house," says the researcher, "you will find all the creepy bacteria that you know about, but that does not mean that you will catch them."

Adalya notes that our immune system, including the skin, perfectly knows how to protect us from diseases caused by these pathogens. However, he admits that people with weakened immune systems such as AIDS, recent organ transplants or chemotherapy treatments are more susceptible.

“Good regular hygiene is enough for you,” he says, “as well as common sense. If you cut yourself, treat the wound with antibiotic ointment, bandage and move on. "

On the subject: What clothes and shoes are ours, but Americans don’t wear

“You can’t say that you can get infections from your own sofa,” he clarifies. “Perhaps a lot of energy is wasted just worrying about what is in the house, even though a person is constantly in an environment that deals with bacteria everywhere, to which people are very resistant.”

If a child crawls on the floor in the house, does this justify a ban on shoes?

On protecting precious children from problems like shoe lice, Adalya says keeping your children in an over-sterilized environment is not doing their immune systems a favor. He believes this is one of the factors contributing to the spread of antibiotic resistance, and that "dirty children" are actually more likely to grow up healthy.

“Thanks to the hygiene hypothesis, we know that the more sterile the environment, the cleaner the environment in which a child is raised, the more likely it is that in adolescence or adulthood he will develop autoimmune and allergic diseases, as well as asthma, eczema,” he said.

Adaglia is not so afraid of bacteria on the foot of the floor that he has expanded the “five-second rule” for himself to the “fifteen minute rule”.

“Here lies a piece of smoked sausage on your plate. Don't you think that there are bacteria in the air that land on it? If you don’t drop it on something precisely toxic or on something with stones and dirt on the surface ... I don’t consider it a reason to throw away food. ”

The expert believes that he would tell a person to take off his shoes in a room solely for aesthetic reasons - say, so as not to spread dirt on a white carpet. And let's be honest: could you really take it if you had a white carpet? We're not in 1980s Miami, and you're not Scarface.

It's hard for me to get rid of paranoia. Under what circumstances can you get sick from bacteria on your shoes?

If it so happens that you rehearse before auditioning for a STOMP performance on a salad field contaminated with E. coli, and then go straight to your friend's apartment and repeat the encore performance in her living room, and after that with the girls you decide to eat tapas right from the floor, someone can get sick.

If you don't flounder all day in cow dung and then do a lengthy performance in shoes in your living room, if you don't return home after a long day at the rat poison factory, dropping your work shoes on the kitchen table to relax, probably in the worst case scenario any gum you stepped on outside will stick to your carpet.

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