This March 2017 photo provided by Johns Hopkins University shows therapy dog Winnie at the university's hospital in Baltimore, Md. Therapy dogs who visit hospital patients can bring joy, affection, and _ superbug bacteria _ according to a new study by Johns Hopkins released Friday, Oct. 5, 2018. Casey Barton Behravesh of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it adds to the growing understanding that while interactions with pets and therapy animals can be beneficial, they can also carry risk. (Meghan Davis/Johns Hopkins University via AP)

Therapy dogs may unleash superbugs, researchers say

October 05, 2018 - 1:27 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — Therapy dogs can bring more than joy and comfort to hospitalized kids. They can also bring stubborn germs.

Doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore were suspicious that the dogs might pose an infection risk to patients with weakened immune systems.

They discovered that kids who spent more time with four therapy dogs had a 6 times greater chance of coming away with superbug bacteria than kids who spent less time with the animals.

But the study also found that washing the dogs before visits and using special wipes while they're in the hospital took away the risk of spreading that bacteria.

The results of the unpublished study were released Friday at a scientific meeting in San Francisco.

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