The prevalence of allergy to laboratory animals (LAA) was investigated in laboratory technicians and animal keepers. In a questionnaire 41 of 101 technicians reported symptoms provoked by work with laboratory animals. On clinical investigation 30 were found to have symptoms and signs related to contact with animals, and allergy was confirmed by radioallergosorbent tests (RAST) and skin tests in 19. All had rhinitis and 10 also had bronchial asthma. Forty seven other technicians who had stopped working with laboratory animals showed the same relative numbers of respiratory tract symptoms and of confirmed allergy to laboratory animals as did those currently handling animals. Seven of 23 animal keepers had work related symptoms. LAA symptoms were found in four and confirmed animal allergy in two. All four animal keepers with animal related symptoms had rhinitis, none had bronchial asthma. Positive animal RAST and skin tests were found only among people with animal related symptoms. A history of atopic disease was commoner among those with positive animal test results than among those with negative test results. No relation between smoking and the development of allergy to laboratory animals emerged. Simple prophylactic measures often sufficed to help technicians with animal related symptoms to remain at work.
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