Is deadly bacteria lurking in your dishwasher? Scientists discover pathogens linked to food poisoning and fatal heart infections build-up in the kitchen staple

Is deadly bacteria lurking in your dishwasher? Scientists discover pathogens linked to food poisoning and fatal heart infections build-up in the kitchen staple
  • Dishwashers can contain E.coli, which causes life-threatening food poisoning
  • Also has other pathogens linked to infections of the urinary tract and skin
  • These can be fatal in people with reduced immune systems, like cancer patients
  • Pathogens likely enter dishwashers via tap water and contaminated food
  • Reduce infection risk by letting dishwashers cool down before opening them 

Deadly bacteria could be lurking in your dishwasher, new research reveals.

The kitchen staple can contain everything from E.coli, which causes life-threatening food poisoning, to other pathogens linked to infections of the urinary tract, skin and inner heart lining, a Slovenian study found.

Although usually harmless, these bacteria can be fatal in people with reduced immune systems, such as those undergoing chemotherapy or organ transplants.

Bacteria and fungi are thought to enter dishwashers via the tap water that supplies them, as well as through contaminated food, the research adds.

Researchers recommend people reduce their risk of infection by allowing dishwashers to cool before opening them and wiping their rubber seal after every use.

DOES CLOUDY WATER COME OUT OF YOUR TAP? IT COULD CONTAIN THE NOROVIRUS 

Cloudy drinking water could contain the norovirus, research suggested last August.

More than 10 studies found a link between cloudy water and acute gastrointestinal illness (AGI), a study review by Drexel University in Philadelphia found.

Aside from the norovirus, AGI-causing parasites include Giardia or Cryptosporidium, all of which can cause vomiting, nausea and diarrhea.

Water is cloudy due to floating material, which is thought to be undissolved particles.

Such particles may protect pathogens against water’s disinfection processes.

Cloudiness may also be evidence of pathogen-containing sediment.

What pathogens do dishwashers contain?  

The researchers, from the University of Ljubljana, in Slovenia, analysed 24 rubber seals in dishwashers in privately-owned homes.

They also investigated the water supplying the dishwashers.

Results reveal many dishwashers contain bacteria including Escherichia, which covers strains such as E.coli that cause life-threatening food poisoning in humans.

They also contain Pseudomonas, which can cause chest infections, and Acinetobacter, which is linked to infections of the urinary tract, skin and inner heart lining, which can be deadly.

As well as bacteria, dishwashers also frequently contain fungi such as Candida, which causes thrush.

How to reduce your risk 

The researchers warn these pathogens could break free into homes via the hot air produced at the air of a dishwasher cycle.

People should therefore avoid opening their dishwashers until they have cooled down.

Pathogen exposure can also be minimised by wiping the rubber seal that surrounds dishwasher doors after each cycle to prevent bacterial and fungal build up. Microbes often lurk on the seal as it is a protective environment against the hot and humid inner dishwasher.

Despite their advice, experts stress that for the average, healthy person, dishwashers likely pose little harm.

Erica Hartmann, an assistant professor at Northwestern University, who was not involved with the study, said: ‘The risk is probably in the realm of a shark attack.’

The findings were published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

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