Having a pet in the house could protect against common respiratory virus linked to development of asthma in children, suggests a new study. The respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is common in toddlers but the severity of its symptoms is more likely to develop into asthma.
A team led by Dr Kei Fujimura from the University of California, carried out a mice study. The first group of mice was exposed to dust from homes with dogs then infected them with RSV (respiratory syncytial virus).The second group of mice was infected with the virus without the dust exposure and last group acted as a control group.
The study findings revealed that infecting mice house dust from homes having dogs protected them against RSV. Mice which were fed dust did not demonstrate symptoms associated with RSV-mediated airway infection, such as inflammation and mucus production. These mice also acquired a distinctive gastrointestinal bacterial composition compared to mice which were not fed dust.
Dr Fujimura stated this led them 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.
RSV infection is common in infants and can noticeable as mild to severe respiratory symptoms. Severe infection in early years is associated with a higher risk of developing childhood asthma. Recognizing the mechanisms of this protection could escort to new drug treatments for RSV and eventually to asthma, added Dr Fujimura.
This is the first step towards identifying the microbial species that present protection against this respiratory pathogen. In earlier study owning pets particularly dogs has been associated with protection against childhood asthma.