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Dust from homes with dogs may prevent asthma, allergies

Category: Allergy Testing

Following a study funded by the National Institutes of Health, there are new findings that suggest dust from homes with dogs may be beneficial in protection from the effects of asthma and allergies. Studying the immune responses of mice in lab tests, the research team found that dog-associated dust played a significant role in reducing allergy inflammation.

The team was made up of scientists from the University of Michigan, Georgia Regents University in Augusta, Henry Ford Health System in Detroit and the University of California, San Francisco. Their collaborative effort was supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

In the lab test, the researchers took dust from the home of a dog owner and exposed half of their mice to it, leaving the other half unprotected when they doused them in asthma-related irritants such as cockroach allergen. The group of mice introduced to dog dust showed lower airway inflammation and less mucus production than the mice that received no dust at all. What they discovered was that microbes in the dog dust were actually restructuring the organisms living in the mice's guts. This affected the mice's immune response and their ability to combat certain allergens.

They found that the bacteria Lactobacillus johnsonii was responsible for the increased resistance to the allergens, as they fed a live form of it to the unexposed mice and saw their immune systems responded similarly to those of the dust-exposed mice.

These results have the potential to create new strategies for treating and preventing allergy infections and asthma.

Asthma and allergies in America
As reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, asthma is one of the most common long-term diseases of children in the U.S. In 2010, there were an estimated 7 million cases of child asthma in the country. It is an expensive disease, as the average treatment cost for a patient can be almost $1,000 per year. Every year, the country spends $56 billion on asthma-related treatment and medication.

Additionally, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America said that almost 50 million Americans have some form of allergies. There is no cure for them, however, with proper medication and treatment the effects can be drastically reduced. Allergies are the fifth leading chronic disease among all ages of people in the U.S. and are the third most common chronic disease among children under the age of 18.

Because allergies have a genetic component, individuals who feel they are at risk may want to consider lab tests online or blood tests to determine their likelihood of developing allergies.

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