Myth No. 5: You can get a dangerous infection from Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) if you go to the hospital.

Yes, that's true, but that’s not the only place MRSA bacteria, which cause infections that are resistant to many kinds of antibiotics, are lurking these days.

Scott has been surveying homes and college dorms for pathogens, and she reports that MRSA has most definitely moved into the community. MRSA seems to be especially prevalent in gyms, locker rooms and bathrooms, and many of the earliest community-acquired cases have been among men engaged in contact sports.

Scott says that she has found it in homes on hand contact surfaces such as bathtub faucets. And unlike many kinds of bacteria, which can’t survive for long after they are exposed to air, MRSA can survive in dry environments.

One particularly startling finding from her work: Scott says she was eight times more likely to find MRSA if there was a cat in the home. That study was published in the American Journal of Infection Control

“Pets are wonderful companion animals,” Scott says, “But people just need to be aware that pets do excrete and carry pathogens that we can pick up.”

Scott says kids, especially, should be coached to wash their hands immediately after handling a pet. Pet equipment, such as cages and bowls, should be washed and disinfected regularly, but they should never be washed in the kitchen sink.