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Dogs could help ward off asthma in infants

Dust created by dogs in homes may offer protection against asthma in children, a study claims.

Dr Kei Fujumura from the University of California found dogs in the home could prevent the development of severe respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) symptoms into asthma in children.

The study exposed mice to dust in homes with dogs and then infected them with RSV.

Findings from this group was compared to those mice infected with the virus but without the dust exposure.

"We found that feeding mice house dust from homes that have dogs present protected them against RSV," said Dr Fujumura.

"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."

It is therefore believed dog-associated house dust may "colonize" the gastrointestinal tract, "modulate" immune responses and "protect" against the asthmagenic pathogen RSV.

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.