Cat and dog sensitization in pet shop workers

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BackgroundSensitivity and symptoms related to animal proteins have been investigated in various occupational groups. However, data from pet shops are limited.AimsTo investigate rates of sensitivity to cats and dogs among pet shop workers, to assess the relationship between sensitivity, allergen levels and symptoms and to investigate whether passive transport from pet shops to homes is possible.MethodsPet shop workers underwent interviews with a questionnaire adapted from the European Community Respiratory Health Survey. Dust samples for allergen detection were collected from pet shops using a vacuum cleaner. Skin tests were performed with common allergens. Dust samples were also obtained from the houses of 7 workers and 12 control subjects.ResultsFifty-one workers from 20 pet shops were included in the study. Thirteen (25%) workers reported work-related symptoms. Four workers had sensitivity to animal allergens. The mean cat/dog allergen levels from pet shops were 15.7 and 3.2 µg/g, respectively. There was no significant relationship between cat/dog allergen levels and work-related symptoms and sensitivity to pets. None of the dust samples collected from the homes of pet shop workers contained cat allergens. Dog allergen was detected in only one house (0.58 µg/g). Neither cat nor dog allergens were found in the homes of the 12 control subjects.ConclusionsAlthough a quarter of pet shop workers reported work-related symptoms, sensitivity to cat and dog was low. These findings suggest that work-related symptoms may be due to other factors than cat and dog sensitivity.

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