Occupational Asthma Reference

Renström A, Olsson M, Hedrén M, Johansson SGO, van Hage M, Pet shop workers: exposure, sensitization, and work-related symptoms, Allergy, 2011;66:1081-1087,
(Plain text: Renstrom A, Olsson M, Hedren M, Johansson SGO, van Hage M, Pet shop workers: exposure, sensitization, and work-related symptoms, Allergy)

Keywords: pet shop, rat, mouse, rodent, Zophobas, guinea pig, rabbit, Tenebrio molitor, chironomid, gerbil, acarus siro, lepidoglyphus destructor, skin prick test, IgE, air measurement, home, Sweden, asthma oa,

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Background: Allergy to laboratory animals is a well-known occupational hazard. The aim was to investigate the frequency of allergic sensitization and respiratory symptoms among pet shop staff and to document their work environment.

Methods: Subjects (n = 59) from 24 pet shops were investigated with a questionnaire and lung function tests and skin prick tests against a panel of common inhalant and pet shop allergens. Blood samples were taken for immunoglobulin E (IgE) and IgE antibodies against Phadiatop and specific pet shop allergens. Personal airborne rodent allergen (n = 40) and endotoxin exposure (n = 40) was measured during work. Airborne rodent allergens were also collected using petri dishes at work (n = 40) and at home (n = 45).

Results: Fifty-three percent reported nasal symptoms, 34% eye symptoms, and 22% had experienced symptoms indicating asthma. However, only four workers (7%) were previously diagnosed with asthma. One-third reported respiratory symptoms at work, mostly against rodents, birds, insects, and hay, and 29% were sensitized to work-related allergens, mainly rodents and fodder insects, e.g., Zophobas. Atopy and total IgE > 100 kU/l increased prevalence of pet shop sensitization [prevalence ratio (PR) 17 and 5.5, respectively], and atopy increased work-related symptoms (PR 3.2). Endotoxin levels were similar between shops with and without rodents. Exposure to animals outside of work was extensive.

Conclusions: A third of the pet shop workers reported airway symptoms at work or were sensitized, sometimes to unusual pet shop allergens, especially among atopics. The findings stress the importance of improving the knowledge of health risks and allergen avoidance measures among pet shop staff.

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Mouse urinary antigen 3.5 times higher in homes from non-mouse owners who petshops had mice compared with workers in petshops without mice. Levels at home about 10% of those at work

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