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Anales del Sistema Sanitario de Navarra

versión impresa ISSN 1137-6627


QUIRCE, S.; OLAGUIBEL, J.M.; ALVAREZ, M.J.  y  TABAR, A.I.. Latex: An important aeroallergen involved in occupational asthma. Anales Sis San Navarra [online]. 2003, vol.26, suppl.2, pp.81-95. ISSN 1137-6627.

Latex has become one of the most frequent aetiological agents of occupational asthma in the last decade, especially amongst health personnel. The prevalence of occupational asthma due to latex in the different affected occupations varies between 2.5 and 10%, figures that give an idea of the magnitude of the problem. Latex proteins, absorbed in the dust of cornstarch, used as a lubricant, are responsible for asthma due to latex gloves. This cornstarch dust that covers the inside of the gloves acts as a vehicle for dispersing allergenic proteins. Latex aeroallergens are found in particles of different dimensions. The levels of latex aeroallergens in the environment capable of causing sensitization and of unleashing symptoms are not well defined. The determination of these levels of exposure to latex is complicated, since with latex one is dealing with a complex mixture of allergens with differing stability and bio-availability. The bioaerosol of latex is mainly produced by the active use of powdered gloves, but rugs or carpets and coverings act as important reservoirs of the allergen. Besides, the movement of people from areas with a high environmental concentration of latex constitutes an important means of dispersing the allergen, and probably ventilation systems as well. As in other cases of occupational asthma, diagnosis in many cases requires that a bronchial challenge be realized. The specific challenge tests through inhalation with latex have been carried out by different methods, which can be grouped by those that use an aqueous extract of latex and those that consist in handling or shaking gloves, which thus generate a dust aerosol. Each method has its advantages and drawbacks as described. Once the sensitized patient begins manifestations of the disease, his prognosis is poor if measures aimed at a maximum reduction of exposure to latex are not applied.

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