A cross sectional survey was carried out on 138 workers exposed to laboratory animals. Sixty (44%) had symptoms in a self completed questionnaire that were consistent with laboratory animal allergy (LAA) of whom 15 (11%) had chest symptoms. There was a positive skin prick test to one or more animal urine extracts (rat, mouse, guinea pig, rabbit) in 13% and 38% had a positive radioallergosorbent test to urine extract. LAA chest symptoms were almost five times more common in atopic than non-atopic subjects (who were distinguished by skin test response to common, non-animal aeroallergens). A positive skin test to animal urine was associated with LAA chest symptoms and with atopy. Nose, eye, or skin symptoms without chest symptoms were not associated with atopy. There was an inverse relation between duration of employment at the firm and LAA chest symptoms, suggesting selection of affected people out of employment with animals.
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