Trending News Today: Germs from Household Pets May Stave Off Autoimmune Conditions in Humans

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

The Seattle City Council has approved a tax on distributors of sugary drinks, in a 7 to 1 vote. According to The Seattle Times, the tax will hopefully reduce the consumption of these beverages and help Seattle provide better access to nutritious foods in low-income areas. Proponents said that soda companies purposely market towards children in these communities, where more people struggle with sugar-linked health problems, such as obesity. Several other cities and counties have adopted similar taxes, such as Berkeley, CA; Philadelphia, PA; and Cook County, IL, which includes Chicago.

An increasing body of research suggests that indoor germs may help stave off different illnesses, including germs from household pets. New research indicates that the cloud of dog-borne microbes may be working to keep humans healthy, with epidemiological studies showing that children who grow up in households with dogs have a lower risk of developing autoimmune conditions, according to The New York Times. Furthermore, it could be a result of the diversity of microbes that animals track inside of homes. Exposure to animal microorganisms during the first 3 months of life help stimulate the immune system to prevent the body from becoming overly sensitive later in life. A study published last year found that Indiana-based Amish children who grew up near barnyard animals had significantly lower rates of asthma compared with Hutterite children, raised apart from animals on large mechanized farms in North Dakota. Experts noted that not all animal-borne microbes are good for humans. “Dogs have been with humans for 40,000 years,” Netzin Steklis, biologist at the University of Arizona, told the NY Times. “But we are only now looking to find out how living with them impacts our health. We’ll know more soon.”

A Manhattan-based physician is accused of writing thousands of prescriptions for oxycodone without a legitimate medical purpose, reported The Wall Street Journal. Martin Tesher, 81, was charged with illegally distributing a controlled substance, according to federal prosecutors in Brooklyn. Tesher allegedly wrote more than 14,000 oxycodone prescriptions, totaling more than 2.2 million pills, between June 2012 and January 2017.