Date: 05 Oct 2006

Prevalence and host determinants of occupational bronchial asthma in animal shelter workers

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Abstract

Objective

We examined the risk factors for the development of airway allergy in animal shelter workers.

Methods

The study population comprised 88 animal shelter workers occupationally exposed to cats and dogs. They responded to a questionnaire concerning the history of exposure to animal allergens and job characteristics and were subjected to skin prick test (SPT) to common and occupational allergens (cat and dog), and determination of total serum IgE level and specific IgE. In addition, SPT with rat and mouse allergens were performed. Bronchial hyperreactivity and peak expiratory flow rate were measured at work and off work only in workers with work-related symptoms suggestive of occupational asthma (OA).

Results

The prevalence of OA was 9.1%. Sensitization to dog allergens was higher than to cats. The multivariate logistic regression analysis revealed a significant role of positive family history of atopy and having a dog as pet in the past for the development of occupational airway allergy (OR 5.9; 95% CI 1.76, 20.00; P = 0.003; OR 6.47; 95% CI 1.90, 22.02; P = 0.002, respectively). In the multivariate logistic regression analysis, the risk for developing OA was most clearly associated with growing up in the country (OR 7.59; 95% CI 1.25, 45.9; P = 0.025).

Conclusions

Allergic disease is a serious occupational health concern for subjects who have occupational contact with cats and dogs.