Twenty eight per cent (15) of 53 workers engaged in a sheep blowfly breeding programme designed to control genetically the pest Lucilia cuprina experienced allergic manifestations resulting from contact with this insect. The most common symptoms were rhinitis, affected eyes, rashes, and lower respiratory symptoms, usually, but not always, immediate in type. A personal history of non-insect related asthma, allergic rhinitis, or eczema, or a combination of these was more common in the fly allergic group but some workers experienced allergic symptoms only when exposed to the adult sheep blowfly. Raised levels of serum IgE antibodies specific for adult and larval allergens were found in approximately 70% of symptomatic workers, whereas only 30% and 7% of two groups of asymptomatic workers were found to have these antibodies. It is concluded that the sheep blowfly is an important source of airborne allergens and can prove a considerable occupational health hazard. Measures designed to reduce worker contact with blowflies and their emanations considerably reduced the incidence of allergic symptoms in the exposed workers.
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