Washing Machines Spreading Deadly Superbugs

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STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • Thirteen newborns in Germany were colonized with a dangerous bacterium after the washing machine used for their personal items began growing Klebsiella oxytoca, a bacterium normally found in the intestines, which may trigger life-threatening lung infections and damage
  • The authors caution those doing laundry for people who are prone to infection, such as those who are immune compromised or the elderly, should take precautions with their machines at home. There are pros and cons to high efficiency top- and front-loaders and to standard top-loading machines
  • Although front-loading washing machines are more prone to the development of toxic mold growth along the rubber gasket seal, even top-loading machines should be cleaned and sanitized routinely to reduce the growth of bacteria and mold, and to prolong the life of the machine
  • While not implicated in the featured study, it bears noting that your dishwasher has the same type of rubber gasket to keep water in the machine and therefore the potential to grow mold and bacteria. Consider cleaning your dishwasher at least every two months to reduce your potential risk of exposure to mold spores

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