A hospital-based screening study of latex allergy and latex sensitization among medical workers in Taiwan
Ching-Tsai Lin, Dong-Zong Hung, Der-Yuan Chen, Hsin-Ju Wu, Jong-Liang Lan, Yi-Hsing Chen
Division of Allergy, Immunology and Rheumatology, and Department of Labor Safety, Taichung Veterans General Hospital, Taichung; and Department of Medicine, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan
Received: August 30, 2007 Revised: December 20, 2007 Accepted: January 28, 2008
Background and purpose:
Natural rubber latex is the most important occupational allergen among medical workers, and remains a significant occupational health issue in Taiwan. We conducted this large-scale hospitalbased screening study to understand the incidence of latex allergy and latex sensitization among medical workers in Taiwan over the past 5 years.
1253 medical workers were enrolled in this study. Subjects were interviewed using a screening questionnaire. Skin prick testing with commercial latex extract was performed for 1139 of the subjects.
152 subjects (12%) had positive latex skin prick test, suggesting that they had been sensitized to latex proteins. Seventy nine subjects (6%) had immediate allergic reactions to latex products. The prevalence of contact hand dermatitis from latex gloves was 35%. The intensive care unit and medical laboratory department accounted for the highest prevalence of allergy among all hospital departments. Most subjects developed immediate latex allergy by 9000 h of total latex exposure. The prevalence of positive latex skin prick test increased with increasing duration of latex exposure.
Latex allergy continues to be an important occupational allergy among medical workers in Taiwan. The addition of a routine screening examination in medical employees’ health check-ups will help in the early identification of sensitized cases and facilitate preventive strategies.
Allergens; Health personnel; Hypersensitivity, immediate; Latex hypersensitivity; Occupational exposure
J Microbiol Immunol Infect. 2008;41:499-506.