Dogs, farm animals and laboratory rats are good news for allergy sufferers

Research from the University of Cincinnati suggests that infants living in homes with high levels of endotoxins (bacterial contaminants) and multiple dogs were more than two times less likely to wheeze than other infants – although they admit that they do not yet understand why this should be so.

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Researchers in British Colombia are equally baffled as to why living on a farm should also reduce the incidence of asthma and allergies but the results of a 2006 study suggested that doing so was associated with a 50% reduction in the risk of asthma, allergic rhinitis and eczema...

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And finally... Researchers at Imperial College, London have discovered that laboratory workers who frequently handle research rats that commonly cause asthma symptoms have fewer allergic reactions to the rats than individuals with less exposure.

Laboratory animal workers may, at very high exposure, be experiencing a natural form of immunotherapy, they suggest. ‘Interestingly, this does not seem to be the case for other groups at risk of occupational asthma such as bakers and detergent manufacturers. We think that the differences arise because laboratory animal workers experience exposure not only through inhalation but also through an intradermal route after bites and scratches.’

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First published in May 2008


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