Occupational Asthma Reference

Sussman GL, Lem D, Liss G, Beezhold D, Latex allergy in housekeeping personnel, Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol, 1995;74:415-418,

Keywords: latex, prevalence, hospital, staff, questionnaire, atopy, laboratory, histamine, control, general population, IgE, dermatitis, new, rhinitis

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Garry Liss, Toronto Garry Liss

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BACKGROUND: Latex allergy has been well described in healthcare workers and children with spina bifida. Cost effective measures to avoid latex allergic reactions are possible in these recognized risk groups.

OBJECTIVE: To study the prevalence of latex allergy among hospital housekeepers regularly exposed to latex gloves.

METHODS: Fifty members of the housekeeping staff at a Toronto teaching hospital were screened by questionnaire for latex allergy. Patients with possible atopy or symptoms suggestive of latex allergy (20) were skin tested with latex (Bencard Laboratories) eight common allergens and histamine control.

RESULTS: Four of 20 tested had a positive latex prick skin test representing an 8% prevalence overall within this group, and a 20% prevalence among atopic housekeepers. Based on an expected 1% prevalence in the general population, this was statistically significant (P < .005). Latex-positive patients had extensive exposure to high protein-unlined latex gloves. Positive patients had a similar yet completely unique immunoblot pattern of IgE binding. All four positive patients had unrecognized latex allergic symptoms (hand dermatitis, rhinoconjunctivitis). One housekeeper experienced itchiness of her face, angioedema, and lightheadedness immediately after inflating a latex balloon.

CONCLUSIONS: The 8% prevalence of a positive latex skin test in regularly exposed hospital housekeepers is similar to that observed among healthcare workers suggesting this is a new risk group 0 (Latex)

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