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Immunological Aspects of Bagassosis
  1. C. E. D. Hearn,
  2. Valerie Holford-Strevens
  1. Caroni Limited (Tate and Lyle Limited), Trinidad, London
  2. The Medical Research Council Clinical Immunology Research Group, Institute of Diseases of the Chest, London

    Abstract

    Immunological investigations of 37 patients with bagassosis, 92 unaffected bagasse workers, and 150 non-exposed controls showed that precipitins against extracts of bagasse could be demonstrated just as frequently in the unaffected and the non-exposed as in the affected. However, there was a general tendency for the precipitin levels of patients with bagassosis to fall slightly with increasing time after recovery from the clinical episode. The presence of the precipitins so far demonstrated in the sera of bagasse workers therefore appears to be of no clinical significance.

    Inhalation tests with an extract of bagasse, in a group of 16 patients who had had bagassosis, produced late, systemic reactions in 15 similar to those described in farmer's lung and bird fancier's lung, so supporting the hypothesis that a similar type of hypersensitivity is the cause of bagassosis. Inhalation of extracts of Thermoactinomyces vulgaris also produced typical, late reactions in 12 out of 15 subjects, whereas extracts of Micropolyspora faeni failed to produce reactions in any of 16 subjects. The specific reactions to inhalation tests with Thermoactinomyces vulgaris were typical of a precipitin-mediated type of hypersensitivity reaction and support the view that this actinomycete may be important in the aetiology of bagassosis.

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