No seriously, I have been fascinated by the hygiene hypothesis since I heard of it in pharmacy school. It really applies to me. I'm the oldest child, my mom was a clean freak, then I developed severe asthma/allergies and the doctor said to keep me away from other sick people so I wouldn't end up in the hospital with an asthma attack.
Yes, you seriously could be the poster child for the hygiene hypothesis. Sadly, all of us in the "developed" countries are. It's just more obvious in some than others.
I wish that my mind was orderly enough that I could write a nice step by step webpage about it but I'm so obsessed with it and it's so complicated that I've tried many, many times and I end up with jumbled, unintelligible messes.
I see that you and Wonderfulworld share comparable histories. WW mentions
Making an admission here, I, and most of my classmates, got worms when we were about 8 years old Shocked Yuk. My parents dosed me a few times to get rid of them, they were very unpleasant! But I think the helminths in the study are a different type....
I contacted Dr Kurtzke several months ago to see if it was anything he'd ever heard of or considered (hygiene hypothesis/loss of evolutionary normal conditions) because I thought it would be wonderful if the guy who spent all that time collecting, compiling and analyzing MS data to try to determine the cause of MS were able to play a part in finally identifying the cause. AND to convince him that all his research and arguments which led him to the conclusion that the British soldiers MUST have spread some unidentifiable virus amongst the Faroese was imminently sensible.....EXCEPT for the fact that there likely was no virus and that the British occupation causing the loss of something which had always been present in the Faroes (parasite infestation) would paint exactly the same picture as the introduction of an unidentifiable virus.
Dr Kurtzke gets right to the point and he knows the right questions. I've given him some good answers but corresponding with him has given me good insight into the questions I need to answer to myself. Only certain helminths? Which helminths? Which are the helminths that have evolved to to survive comfortably in the human? Which are the human zoonotics (parasites adapted to other animals which can survive and modulate the human immune system but can't complete their life cycle). Considering that there are many human parasites, is it only helminth parasites which interact with the human immune system and why?
There is no doubt from Dr Kurtzke's demeanor that he wouldn't hesitate to tell me to get lost and in fact his first response was something to the effect of...I get at least one nut a month proposing the cause of MS and this isn't the first time the subject of parasites has come up. He admittedly scared me off for a month or so but I'm so convinced and there is so much evidence that I eventually wrote back.
Because it doesn't seem that he would hesitate to tell me to get lost, I think he's being honest when he says that he's very busy at the moment (working on three papers, two grants and just submitted two articles for publication) but that he will investigate and give it serious consideration when his schedule eases. That's fine with me because it buys me a bit of time to try to determine more answers.
I think anyone's initial consideration should be that the purpose of your immune system is to kill or expel anything that isn't "you", so anything able to survive your immune system should be suspect. Whether helminth, virus, bacteria or protozoan, how is it able to survive the immune system because there is no doubt that it is doing SOMETHING to keep the immune system off it's back.
Originally I assumed that because viruses and bacteria hide in our cells, hiding was their only needed evasion method. But they are exposed when multiplying and I've read research documenting bacteria having specific immune modulating effects.
To emphasize how diverse and complicated the situation can be, read this abstract from the April 2007 Journal of Neuroimmunology http://tinyurl.com/38sq36
Basically, to rid themselves of malaria, Sardinia Italy eliminated the mosquitos which carry the parasite which causes malaria. Now Sardinia is experiencing high rates of MS. I read the entire article about three times and I can't figure out what they're trying to prove regarding genetics but the point is that even ridding themselves of the parasite which causes malaria increased the MS incidence.
On the other hand here is an abstract regarding H pylori bacteria providing protection from MS http://tinyurl.com/2wfpgg
.......with it in mind that even though H pylori is an intestinal parasite responsible for peptic ulcers and the digestive tract is considered "external", when the H pylori interacts with blood it can have an internal interaction with the immune system.
You've both experienced mono (or at least exposure to EBV), depite the fact that it may seem that way, in this situation I don't think it's contrary to consider that a virus may be protective and at the same time a possible instigator in the autoimmune process itself.
Considering the amount of infestation humans have historically experienced, one short exposure to worms wasn't likely nearly enough to offer more than temporary benefit.
Rachel, you said you were interested in the hygiene hypothesis. Doesn't it seem a little eerie that when David P. Strachan postulated it in 1989 that he was only considering allergies, in fact at that time allergies and autoimmune diseases were considered almost opposites, driven by "opposing" TH responses. Yet the evidence showed him that exposure to "evolutionary normal" conditions led to a "mature" immune system, which by the age of 14 or 15 was able to provide protection through life.
On the other hand, completely independently, using incidence data (I think Dr Kurtzke did it) MS researchers found that someone migrating from a country of low MS incidence AFTER about the age of 14 or 15 keeps the lower incidence level of the country the migrated from...for life.
Just one more of about a zillion, admittedly circumstantial, evidences pointing to the loss of evolutionary normal conditions leading to MS/autoimmune diseases, allergy, asthma.
Are there any studies on this subject being conducted in this country???
Lots of research in the US and all over the world but the only study specific to MS is that John Fleming at the University of Wisconsin has a $358,000 grant from the NMSS http://tinyurl.com/3e3vcb
to do a T suis/MS clinical trial but the FDA hasn't cleared the way yet.