Objectives The present study describes latex sensitisation and allergy prevalences and associated factors among healthcare workers using hypoallergenic latex gloves at King Edward VIII Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal South Africa.
Methods A cross sectional survey of randomly selected healthcare workers (n = 501), (337 exposed and 164 unexposed) at King Edward VIII Hospital, South Africa was conducted between 2011 and 2012. Healthcare worker data was collected using a questionnaire and skin prick tests using the Stallergenes kit. Chi-square and Kruskal-Wallis test were used for significance testing on bivariate analysis. Binary logistic regression was used to test associations between dependent and independent outcomes on multivariate analysis.
Results Prevalence of latex sensitisation and allergy observed among exposed workers (7.1% and 5.9%) and unexposed workers (3.1% and 1.8%). Work related allergy symptoms were significantly higher in exposed workers (40.9%, p < 0.05). Duration of employment was protective against latex allergy (OR: 0.9; 95% CI: 0.8–0.9). The risk of latex sensitisation (OR: 4.2; 95% CI: 1.2–14.1) and allergy (OR: 5.1; 95% CI: 1.2–21.2) increased with exclusive use of powder-free latex gloves. Dose -response relationship was observed for powdered latex gloves (OR: 1.1; 95% CI: 1.0–1.2). Atopy (OR: 1.5; 95% CI: 0.7–3.3 and 1.4; 95% CI: 0.6–3.2) and fruit allergy (OR: 2.3; 95% CI: 0.8–6.7 and 3.1; 95% CI: 1.1–9.2) also increased the risk of latex sensitisation and allergy, respectively. The observed relation between atopy and latex sensitisation and allergy was not significant.
Conclusion This study adds to previous findings that healthcare workers exposed to hypoallergenic latex gloves are at risk for developing latex sensitisation highlighting its importance as an occupational hazard in healthcare.
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