Latex

Code: k82
Latin name: Hevea brasiliensis
Source material: Natural rubber from Hevea brasiliensis, without ammonia treatment
The prevalence of latex allergy among health care personnel ranges from 2-25%.

Allergen Exposure

Numerous items, such as latex gloves, catheters, condoms, balloons, sports equipment etc.
 
Pathways for allergen exposure:
  • inhalation of the powder from latex gloves
  • direct skin or mucosa (membrane) contact
Unexpected exposure
Latex sensitive patients may react also to some fruits, such as banana, kiwi, avocado, papaya (1-2).
 
Environment
Medical and odontology clinics: Health care personnel, and individuals with a history of repeated surgery (e.g. spina bifida children) are considered a high risk group (3-5).
 
Latex products for everyday use can be found in almost any environment (6-7).

Potential Cross-Reactivity

Confirmed and suspected involvement of cross-reacting allergens   in reactions to fruits, vegetables and other plants have been described (1-2).

Clinical Experience

IgE-mediated reactions
Urticaria (8).
 
Cases of anaphylaxis have been reported (9).

References

  1. Brehler R, Theissen U, Mohr C, Luger T. "Latex-fruit syndrome": frequency of cross-reacting IgE antibodies. Allergy 1997; 52: 404-410.
  2. Posch A, Chen Z, Wheeler C, Dunn MJ, Raulf-Heimsoth M, Baur X. Characterization and identification of latex allergens by two-dimensional electrophoresis and protein microsequencing. J Allergy Clin Immunol 1997; 99: 385-95.
  3. Grzybowski M, Ownby DR, Peyser PA, Johnson CC, Schork MA. The prevalence of anti-latex IgE antibodies among registered nurses. J Allergy Clin Immunol 1996; 98: 535-44.
  4. Slater JE, Mostello LA, Shaer C. Rubber-specific IgE in children with spina bifida. J Urol 1991;146: 578-9.
  5. Michael T, Niggemann B, Moers A, Seidel U, Wahn U, Scheffner D. Risk factors for latex allergy in patients with spina bifida. Clin Exp Allergy 1996; 26: 934-9.
  6. Hamann CP. Natural rubber latex protein sensitivity in review. Am J Contact Dermatitis 1993; 4: 4-21.
  7. Ownby DR, Ownby HE, McCullough J, Shafer AW. The prevalence of anti-latex IgE antibodies in 1000 volunteer blood donors. J Allergy Clin Immunol 1996; 97:1188-92.
  8. Wrangsjo K, Mellstrom G, Axelsson G . Discomfort from rubber gloves indicating contact urticaria. Contact Dermatitis 1986; 15: 79-84.
  9. Meric F, Teitelbaum DH, Geiger JD, Harmon CM, Groner JI. Latex sensitization in general pediatric surgical patients: a call for increased screening of patients. J Pediatr Surg 1998; 33: 1108-11.

As in all diagnostic testing, the diagnosis is made by the physican based on both test results and the patient history.