Epidemiology of laboratory animal allergy
Laboratory animal allergy is common and an important occupational health issue for the research, pharmaceutical and toxicological sectors. In most settings where there is regular contact with laboratory animals — chiefly small mammals — the prevalence of specific sensitisation is around 15% and the prevalence of clinical allergy around 10%. These figures probably underestimate the true risk of disease since epidemiological studies of the disease have been beset by response and survivor biases. Allergen exposure appears to be the most important modifiable risk factor, but the effects of such exposure seem to be modified importantly by individual susceptibility. Laboratory animal research shows no signs of becoming less common, and an increasingly susceptible (atopic) population is likely to be recruited into such work. Future studies should be designed to take into account the inherent biases of occupational epidemiology, to study in detail the immunological mechanisms that underlie sensitisation and tolerance, and to identify early biomarkers of each.
KeywordsAllergy Clin Immunol Allergen Exposure Occupational Asthma Occup Environ Surveillance Scheme
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