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More on Pets Conferring Immunity to Kids

A recent article by Alexandra Sifferlin entitled [http://healthland.time.com/2013/12/16/researchers-reveal-the-microscopic-reasons-why-pets-protect-against-allergies/ "Researchers Reveal the Microscopic Reasons Why Pets Protect Against Allergies"] describes further research designed to help unravel the relationship between pets and allergies in humans. Researchers led by Kei E. Fujimara exposed mice to house dust collected from homes with dogs and those without. The mice exposed to the dog-enhanced dust were protected when challenged by an airway allergen whereas the other mice were not. The researchers then determined what specific components in the dog-enhanced dust might contribute to this immunity. Among the differences between the protected and unprotected mice, they discovered that cecal the microbiome of the protected species was noticeably enriched by the bacteria,'' L. johnsonii. '' This is significant because it has already been shown that animals given ''L. johnsonii'' gain protection from airway allergens and respiratory syncytial virus, a major cause of respiratory illness in young children. (You can read the entire study [http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/12/13/1310750111.full.pdf+html?sid=41adb009-6bf0-4b6e-9f9d-2fd1e78c7eea here].) This probably isn’t what most of us think of when we think of dogs conferring immunity to kids. Instead it’s the physiological (and mostly likely behavioral and emotional) ecosystem we call a dog interacting with a similar micro- and macro-ecosystem known as us. It’s yet another example of the inter-connectedness that makes the human-animal bond a bond and not just a relationship.

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