But yes, according to new research published in the journal BMC Biology. Mice with the most lice had calmer immune systems than uninfested mice, adding to evidence that hyper-clean living contributes to asthma and allergies.
The idea is that if the immune system is not properly primed with germs, bugs, and pathogens during childhood, the immune system can go haywire, basically inventing problems to solve when it has nothing to do. Asthma and allergies belong to a broad class of conditions known as auto-immune disorders. In these conditions, the immune system launches a hyperactive response to harmless triggers such as pollen, pet dander, and even the individual's own body cells.
But while I give the house just enough dusting to make sure the dark wood furniture doesn't look gray, just enough vacuuming to eliminate most of the newfies' under-furniture-and-corner hair balls, and just enough scrubbing to make the kitchen and bathroom appear to be clean, I will keep in the back of my mind the funny yet sage advice from a scientist whose immune system talk I attended at a conference: Be sure to have at least some dog poop in your sheets!
Although I can no longer remember the details of Marlene Zuk's talk, I do recall the take home message is that you need some germs in your environment to have a healthy immune system. Without stuff to fight off, the immune system launches assaults on stuff it shouldn't, causing you to actually be less healthy. Zuk's talk echoes what I had learned in the psychoneuroimmunology course I took during grad school. All of this makes me wish I had the time to read Zuk's book, Riddled With Life. She was an engaging and hilarious speaker, so I am
sure her book is great.
How could you not enjoy reading the work of a scientist who advocates for having a little dog poo in your home? I know we have trace fecal matter throughout the Field Notes' house. Hopefully, Baby Field Notes will have a terrific immune system.
We'll have to trade the lice for poo though. I draw the line at lice.