Occupational Asthma Reference

Fischer J, Lupberger E, Hebsaker J, Blumenstock G, Aichinger E, Yazdi AS, Reick D, Oehme R, Biedermann T, Prevalence of type I sensitization to alpha-gal in forest service employees and hunters, Allergy, 2017;72:1540-1547,10.1111/all.13156

Keywords: forrest worker, lumberjack, hunter, tic, alpha-gal, IgE, red meat allergy, Germany

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The production of IgE molecules specific to the carbohydrate galactose-a-1,3-galactose (alpha-gal) is known to induce delayed anaphylaxis against mammalian meat. Tick bites constitute the primary sensitization source, as ticks transfer alpha-gal in their saliva to a host during a bite. The reported prevalence of alpha-gal-specific IgE (alpha-gal-sIgE) positivity varies between different populations from diverse geographic regions.

To investigate the prevalence of alpha-gal-sIgE positivity in a population of forest service employees who are highly exposed to ticks in comparison with a residential population and a historic sample.

A cross-sectional study evaluating 300 forest service employees and hunters from southwest Germany was performed. Alpha-gal-sIgE levels were assessed by ImmunoCAP assay. The prevalence of alpha-gal-sIgE-positive individuals was compared with a matched cohort composed of a residential population and blood samples from forest service employees collected 15 years ago.

In the study population, the prevalence of alpha-gal-sIgE-positive (=0.10 kUA/L) individuals was 35.0%, whereas the prevalence of individuals with alpha-gal-sIgE levels =0.35 kUA/L was 19.3%. Alpha-gal-sIgE positivity was associated with total IgE levels and recent tick bites. Mammalian meat-induced delayed anaphylaxis was found in 8.6% of the participants with alpha-gal-sIgE levels =0.35 kUA/L. For forest service employees and hunters, the odds ratio for alpha-gal-sIgE positivity was 2.48 compared to the residential population. The prevalence of alpha-gal-sIgE positivity in the current and historic cohort was comparable.

Forest service employees and hunters compose a population with a high prevalence of alpha-gal-sIgE positivity and carry a considerable risk of red meat allergy.

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