The United States is facing a major public health crisis with the emergence of new types of bacteria, with a growing body of research indicating that the country’s toilets, where many Americans rely on them, may be the culprit.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its first national health data update on Tuesday, and found that the number of people in the United States dying of urinary tract infections more than doubled between 2014 and 2019.
The report also found that more than 1 million Americans now suffer from urinary tract disease, or UTDs, more than double the number who had the condition in 2013.
The findings underscore the need for a new strategy to combat the disease.
A report released in May from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Global Health found that while a lack of access to healthy toilets is a major factor in rising rates of urinary-tract infections, many factors also contribute to the problem, including socioeconomic status, poor sanitation, lack of education, lack and lack of safe drinking water, poor food preparation practices, poor ventilation, and lack or lack of adequate hygiene products.
A new study released Monday by the CDC suggests that toilet-associated urinary tract infection (UAIT) rates have spiked over the last two decades in some parts of the country.
The study analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a large survey conducted annually by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, that asked people to fill out a questionnaire about their toilet habits.
About a quarter of the surveyed people reported using a toilet more than 20 times per day.
Researchers found that people who reported using toilets more than 15 times per week were about twice as likely to have an infection compared to those who reported not using toilets.
The rate of infections was higher among men than among women, with men more likely to be infected.
The researchers noted that while the rate of UTIs was up, they said the rate was actually less than half of what it would have been if the survey had not been conducted in recent years.
The CDC has issued a public health advisory warning that toilet use should be part of routine health checks for all adults.
“It is critical that people are aware of the potential risks associated with toilets and their associated health consequences,” Dr. David Wessels, a UTI specialist at the CDC, said in a statement.
The agency is urging people to regularly flush their toilet, change the way they use their toilets and ensure that toilet bowls are cleaned and disinfected.
The U.S. health agency has also issued guidelines for people using private restrooms to be more cautious.
The recommendations recommend that “people use a hand-held water filtration system, which does not need to be attached to a toilet seat or any other part of the toilet,” and that people wash their hands after using toilets, especially if they are near someone who is sick.
A number of states are also considering legislation that would require toilets to be disinfected by the manufacturer, according to the Associated Press.