, Volume 85, Issue 1, pp 52-61
Date: 15 Nov 2007

Rodent Allergen in Los Angeles Inner City Homes of Children with Asthma

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Recent studies have examined the presence of mouse allergen in inner city children with asthma. Researchers have found high levels of rodent allergen in homes sampled in the northeast and midwest United States, but there has been considerable variation between cities, and there have been few studies conducted in western states. We evaluated the frequency of rodent sightings and detectable mouse allergen and the housing conditions associated with these outcomes in inner city homes in Los Angeles. Two hundred and two families of school children, ages 6–16 living in inner city neighborhoods, participated in the study. Families were predominantly Latino (94%), and Spanish speaking (92%). At study entry, parents completed a home assessment questionnaire, and staff conducted a home evaluation and collected kitchen dust, which was analyzed for the presence of mouse allergen. Fifty-one percent of homes had detectable allergen in kitchen dust. All 33 families who reported the presence of rodents had detectable allergen in the home and were also more likely to have increased levels of allergen compared to those who did not report rodents. Unwashed dishes or food crumbs, lack of a working vacuum, and a caretaker report of a smoker in the home were all significantly associated with a greater risk of rodent sightings or detectable allergen (P < 0.05). Detached homes were significantly more likely to have detectable allergen. The prevalence of allergen is common enough that it may have public health implications for asthmatic children, and detectable allergen was not routinely identified based on rodent sightings. Many of the predictors of rodent allergen are amenable to low-cost interventions that can be integrated with other measures to reduce exposure to indoor allergens.

Berg, Kotlerman, and Lewis are with the School of Nursing at the University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA; McConnell, Milam, Galvan, Jones, Ferdman, Peters, and Richardson are with the Departments of Preventive Medicine, Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA; Thorne is with the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA; Eggleston and Rand are with the Departments of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA