Occupational allergy to Artemia fish fry feed in aquaculture

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Abstract

Background

Artemia (brine shrimp) is used as feed for fish fry and shrimp in aquaculture. Two employees in a Norwegian aquaculture research farm reported having chest symptoms when working in an Artemia hatch room.

Aims

To determine the presence and prevalence of Artemia sensitization at the farm and the extent of any Artemia-related respiratory and hand skin symptoms and to identify the allergens involved.

Methods

Participants completed a questionnaire and structured interview. Skin prick tests (SPTs) were performed, and immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to Artemia, shrimp and recombinant tropomyosin were determined. Gel electrophoresis and immunoblots of Artemia extracts were also carried out.

Results

Thirty of 42 employees (71%) participated. Among the 24 subjects exposed to Artemia, four (17%) reported chest and/or hand skin symptoms during exposure and three of them were IgE sensitized to Artemia. Five (21%) of those exposed demonstrated IgE antibodies to Artemia and four (17%) had immediate-positive SPTs. A serum pool from these subjects exhibited IgE binding to a protein of ∼97 kDa in the Artemia extract.

Conclusions

Occupational exposure to the Artemia fish fry feed can cause IgE sensitization and allergic symptoms affecting airways and skin.

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