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The asthma guard dogs: Having a pet in the house could protect against virus linked to development in children
00:57 GMT, 20 June 2012
Having a dog in the house guards against asthma, a study suggests.
Researchers found that dust from homes with dogs offered protection against a common respiratory virus linked to the development of asthma in children.
The respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is common in infants but the more severe the symptoms the more likely it is to develop into asthma.
Being exposed to dust from dogs could offer protection against a common respiratory virus according to researchers
In a recent study, Kei Fujimura, from the University of California, found that dust in a home with a cat or dog is distinct from pet-free houses.
He then exposed mice to dust from homes with dogs, then infected them with RSV. A second group was infected with the virus without the dust exposure and a third acted as a control.
Dr Fujimura said: ‘We found that feeding mice house dust from homes that have dogs present protected them against RSV.
'RSV infection is common in infants and can manifest as mild to severe respiratory symptoms.
The respiratory syncytial virus is common i infants but the more severe symptoms can cause asthma
'Severe infection in infancy is associated with a higher risk of developing childhood asthma.
'Mice fed dust did not exhibit symptoms associated with RSV-mediated airway infection, such as inflammation and mucus production.
'They also possessed a distinct gastrointestinal bacterial composition compared to animals not fed dust.'
Pet ownership and dogs in particular has previously been linked with protection against childhood asthma.
Dr Fujimura said: 'This led us to speculate that microbes within dog-associated house dust may colonize the gastrointestinal tract, modulate immune responses and protect the host against the asthmagenic pathogen RSV.
'This study represents the first step towards determining the identity of the microbial species which confer protection against this respiratory pathogen.'
Identifying the mechanisms of this protection could lead to new treatments for RSB and ultimately asthma, he added.