A2: Microbes in the News #3_ HAMMOND


— Article and link: Men with beards carry more germs than dogs with deadly bacteria in their facial hair, study reveals

Written by: Padraic Flanagan for the Daily Mail


https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00330-018-5648-z (peer reviewed article)


— Summary:  A recent study conducted in Switzerland found that men’s beard had significantly higher amounts of bacteria compared to dogs fur. The goal of this study was to find if humans could confer dog borne diseases from MRI scanners that had just been used for dogs. They took the swabs of 18 men’s beards and 30 dogs’ necks. They found that only 23 of the 30 dogs had high microbial counts, while all 18 men had high microbial counts, and 7 of these men had microbes that are pathogenic to humans.  However, Keith Flett, founder of the Beard Liberation Front, which opposes discrimination against beards, doesn’t believe it, and says the results stem from pogonophobia, the fear of beards.


— Connections: This highlights the principle of Ubiquity we talked about in class, “everything is everywhere, but, the environment selects.’ Interestingly, a human beard harbors more bacteria than dogs fur. This is possibly due to the beard being so close to the mouth, allowing more food availability, resulting in a more advantageous environment for microbes.


— Critical analysis: I found this story interesting because beards are apparently fashionable in our society and I cant grow them. I was surprised that men’s beards had significantly higher microbial communities than dogs coats, especially since humans bathe more than dogs. However, I think this report has some inaccuracies and didn’t account for some externalities,  such as; how much the men showered, what they last ate, or other lifestyle habits. Overall, this article was well written and was easy to understand for people not in the scientific community. After reviewing the journal article, I think the researchers did a good job inhibiting cross contamination, using men of varying ages, and using comparing microbail counts in common dog breeds. However, I think they should have included more men in the study to equal the number of dogs.


— Question:  Since beards are near the mouth, that allows more opportunity for food particulates to be in the beard, which would increase microbial growth because of the food source. My question is how would this compare to urogenital hair across different genders or comparing the results to hair on the underside of dogs, where they lay?

1 Comment for “A2: Microbes in the News #3_ HAMMOND”



I agree, this is an interesting idea, but perhaps lacking in experimental design. If they wanted to prove that beards hold pathogenic bacteria in them, they should have correlated bacterial counts with some environmental condition, such as bathing frequency. I do not deny that beards likely hold bacteria just like hair does, but this experiment could have used a bit more thought in development to make more concrete conclusions.

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