Dogs may protect infants from an infection

June 21, 2012 at 10:33 PM
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SAN FRANCISCO, June 21 (UPI) -- Mice that were fed house dust from homes that had dogs were protected against respiratory syncytial, an infection common in infants, U.S. researchers say.

Tine Demoor, a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Nick Lukacs at the University of Michigan Health System, performed the mouse experiments and measured airway symptomology associated with RSV infection.

The researchers said the RSV infection could manifest as mild to severe respiratory symptoms, but severe infection in infancy is associated with a higher risk of developing childhood asthma, and as such RSV is considered an "asthmagenic" virus.

Drs. Kei Fujimura and Marcus Rauch, and Stephanie Galang from Dr. Susan Lynch laboratory at the University of California, San Francisco, performed microbiome profiling and data analysis of gut contents from the animals.

Mice fed the dust did not exhibit symptoms associated with RSV-mediated airway infection, such as inflammation and mucus production, but they possessed a distinct gastrointestinal bacterial composition compared to animals not fed dust.

The findings build on earlier research that found having pets, dogs in particular, was associated with protection against childhood asthma development.

The findings were presented at the 112th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in San Francisco.

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