Abstract #W96

# W96
Dog ownership increases the richness of the cutaneous microbiome.
Celia S. Sobelman*1, Jessica K. Suagee2, Cristina Caldari1, 1Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport, LA, 2The Ohio State University, Wooster, OH.

Maintaining a normal microflora is imperative for the modulation of immune responses by the host and prevents the overgrowth of opportunistic microorganisms. Changes in cutaneous microflora could result in skin diseases. It has been shown that individuals that co-habitate harbor similar cutaneous microbial communities. The purpose of this study was to determine if humans that co-habitate with dogs have different cutaneous microbial richness compared with humans that are rarely exposed to dogs. Microbial richness was defined as the number of morphologically distinct colonies in a sample. Humans that co-habitate with dogs (dog owners) were defined as humans living with ≥1 indoor dogs. Humans having rare contact with dogs (non-dog owners) were defined as humans that were in contact with dogs ≤ once a week. Cutaneous microbial samples were obtained by using a sterile cotton swab to swab the top of the hands, forearms and foreheads of humans and the dorsal thoracic area, nose area, and chest of dogs. The cotton swabs were stored in sterile phosphate buffered saline (PBS) for 24 h after which time 100 μL of the PBS were plated onto a tryptic soy agar plate with 5% sheep blood. After a 48-h incubation period at 37°C, distinct microbial colonies were counted. Distinctness of the colonies was determined based on colony morphology, cell morphology and Gram staining. Microbial richness varied among dogs, dog-owners, and non-dog owners (Levene’s test, P-value = 0.007), with dogs having the most variation and non-dog owners having the least variation. The average cultured cutaneous microbial richness was significantly higher in dogs and dog owners (6.73 ± 4.23 and 5.60 ± 3.20 microbial species, respectively) compared with non-dog owners (2.73 ± 0.96 microbial species; dog vs. non-dog owner: P = 0.0001, dog owner vs non-dog owner: P = 0.002). There was no significant difference in the cutaneous microbial richness of dogs and dog-owners. These results suggest that frequent contact with dogs leads to an increase in cutaneous microbial richness compared with infrequent contact with dogs. The implications of these findings on health and disease warrant further investigation.

Key Words: cutaneous microbiome, dog, dog ownership