Occupational Asthma Reference

Krakowiak A, Palczynski C, Walusiak J et al, Allergy to animal fur and feathers among zoo workers, Int Arch Occup Environ Health, 2002;75:S113-116,


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Jolanta Walusiak, Lodz Jolanta Walusiak

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This study determined the prevalence of respiratory symptoms and immediate hypersensitivity to feather and fur allergens and pulmonary function among zoological garden workers.

Skin-prick test (SPT) reactivity to common and epithelium (hair) animal fur and feather allergens were examined in 68 zoological garden workers. All subjects responded to a questionnaire and underwent spirometry. Total and antigen-specific IgE were estimated among subjects claiming respiratory symptoms.

Forty-five subjects revealed positive SPTs with any inhalant allergen. Twelve reacted to feather extracts and 18 reacted to animal fur extracts. IgE specific for occupational allergens was seen in the serum of five subjects with SPTs positive to feather allergens and in the serum of 12 subjects with SPTs positive to fur allergens. Nose or eye symptoms were reported most frequently. Rhinitis and asthma were reported by atopic subjects more often than by non-atopic subjects. Occupational asthma due to feathers was diagnosed in 2% of zoo workers, and to fur in 10% of subjects working in contact with birds and furred animals.

The results suggest that occupational asthma caused by feathers is very rare in contrast to asthma caused by animal fur. Atopy predisposes to the development of allergic diseases caused by animal fur and feathers.

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