Occupational Asthma Reference

Fuortes LJ, Weih L, Jones ML, Burmeister LF, Thorne PS, Pollen S, Merchant JA, Epidemiologic assessment of laboratory animal allergy among university employees, Am J Ind Med, 1996;29:67-74,

Keywords: USA, laboratory animal, prevalence, ep cs

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Peter S Thorne, Iowa Peter S Thorne

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The prevalence of, and risk factors for, laboratory animal allergy (LAA) among university employees were evaluated in a cross-sectional university-based study. A stratified random sample was drawn based on current or no laboratory animal exposure and smoking status. Participants received a modified ATS questionnaire; spirometry; methacholine challenge; and intradermal allergen skin tests. One hundred three currently animal-exposed and 113 never-occupationally-exposed employees participated. Controlling for smoking, currently exposed workers were significantly more likely than controls to describe work-related cough, odds ratio (O.R.) = 6.87; wheeze, O.R. = 12.96; and chest tightness, O.R. = 2.89. Skin test reactivity to non-animal antigens was associated in a dose-response fashion with both upper and lower respiratory symptoms, O.R. = 1.45 and 1.65, respectively, for each additional positive skin test. Exposed workers were significantly more likely than controls to react to methacholine at either 10 or 25 mg/ml, while controlling for smoking status, prior allergy, or asthma. Multiple logistic regression analysis revealed history of hay fever, family history of allergy, non-animal skin test positivity, animal bites, age, and smoking status to each be associated with work-related respiratory symptoms. These data suggest that atopy and smoking status are risk factors for LAA symptoms. Smoking was associated with work-related respiratory symptoms among animal-exposed workers, but not with skin test positivity. It is therefore recommended that periodic screening evaluations be performed on laboratory animal workers and that workers who are atopic, are smokers, or are symptomatic be placed in low exposure settings. These data further, support the need for efficient exhaust ventilation, personal protective clothing and, among high risk workers, the use of efficient respiratory protection

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