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Minimum Prevalence of Latex Hypersensitivity in Health Care Workers

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Health care workers (HCW) have been shown to be at significant risk for developing latex allergy. Natural rubber latex hypersensitivity has been reported in 2.9 to 17% of health care workers in previously published studies. This study describes the prevalence of latex hypersensitivity in a large cohort of medical center employees. A screening questionnaire was distributed to 1967 employees in six job categories exposed to latex, and 1331 questionnaires were returned (68%) between March and November 1995. Skin and serologic testing was performed on 156 volunteers. Of the 1331 HCWs who completed the screening questionnaire, 290 (21.8%) self-reported contact dermatitis to latex, 67 (5.0%) self-reported urticaria to latex, 163 (12.2%) self-reported rhino-conjunctivitis to latex, and 17 (1.3%) self-reported asthmatic symptoms to latex. Of the total population of 1967 employees, 38 (1.9%) were either skin test or blood test positive and 30 (1.5%) of these 38 were symptomatic around latex. This study suggests a minimum prevalence of IgE-mediated hypersensitivity to latex of 1.5% among medical center employees. Our reported prevalence figures are lower than previously reported, reflecting, in part, reporting methods using a denominator more consistent with the total population at risk. Our study also illustrates the pitfall of relying on self-reporting in making the diagnosis of latex allergy.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 1999-11-01

More about this publication?
  • Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.

    The goal of the Proceedings is to publish articles with a predominantly clinical focus which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma.

    Featured topics include asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, allergic skin diseases, diagnostic techniques, allergens, and treatment modalities. Published material includes peer-reviewed original research, clinical trials and review articles.

    Articles marked "F" offer free full text for personal noncommercial use only.

    The journal is indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science and Science Citation Index Expanded, plus the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.
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