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Volume 41, Number 6, December 2008

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   

 

Corresponding author:

Dr. Yi-Hsing Chen, MD, Division of Allergy, Immunology and Rheumatology, Taichung Veterans General Hospital, 160 Taichung Harbor Road, Section 3, Taichung 40705, Taiwan. E-mail: Dr. Yi-Hsing Chen This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
 



 

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.
 



 

Methods:

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.
 



 

Results:

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.



 

Conclusion:

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.



 

Key words:

Allergens; Health personnel; Hypersensitivity, immediate; Latex hypersensitivity; Occupational exposure

 



 

J Microbiol Immunol Infect. 2008;41:499-506.