Asthma and alveolitis caused by skin and/or animal proteins

  • Animal breeder
  • Biologist
  • Pet shop employee
  • Pharmaceutical industry
  • Veterinary surgeon
Birds, Bovine dander, Cat, Crab, Deer, Dog, Fish based glues, Guinea pig, Hamster, Mink, Mouse, Rabbit, Rat, Rodents, Shellfish.
Incidence: 10-32% of exposed subjects. Symptoms may appear between one month and one year after initial exposure to the risk; they are closely associated with the work place and disappear after the subject is removed from the contaminated environment-at least during the initial period. Various immunological mechanisms could be involved: IgE (rat urine); IgG in extrinsic alveolitis (extracts of animal organs). Investigation of work place conditions and possible preventative measures are very important. Studies at the workplace and prevention are very important. The technicians and personnel who clean out cages (especially rats) experience the greatest exposure. There is partial cross-reactivity between cow dander, cow's milk and beef.
The origin of the allergen depends on the animal in question: salivary proteins (cat); urinary proteins (rat); fur and urine proteins (Guinea Pig); pituitary gland extract (pig); dander and urine (cow) for which the antigen fractions have recently been described ; serum proteins (salmon farming; urinary proteins during the breeding season (mink).. Once asthma has been diagnosed, the severity of symptoms is directly related to the quantity of allergens in the environment. (Immuno-assay techniques such as ELISA may be used: 460 ? 300 ng/m3 of air for bovine dander).
Rhinitis, conjunctivitis and asthma are the most common symptoms. Contact urticaria is a fairly frequent symptom. Hyperthermia and fever may also occur in the case of alveolitis.
Diagnostic methods
Skin tests: skin prick test or IDR following allergen challenge.
Bronchial provocation test (in hospital).
Immunological essay. CAP or RAST: rat, mouse, hamster, guinea pig, rabbit, cat, dog; ELISA.


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