Dust from Homes with Dogs Protects against Respiratory Infection

A recent study showed that house dust from homes with dogs appears to protect against infection with a common respiratory virus that is associated with the development of asthma in children.

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, recently presented their findings at the 2012 General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.

Kei Fujimura, one of the researchers on the study, said that when they fed mice the dust from homes with dogs in them, they were protected against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a childhood airway infectious agent. RSV is common in infants and can manifest with mild to severe symptoms.

Pet ownership, in particular dogs, has previously been associated with protection against childhood asthma development, says Fujimura. Recently she and her colleagues demonstrated that the collection of bacterial communities (the microbiome) in house dust from homes that possess a cat or dog is compositionally distinct from house dust from homes with no pets.

“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,” says Fujimura.