A general introduction to allergy to laboratory animals (ALA)
The prevalence of asthma was discussed. A literature survey done by Richard Fosse and the opinion and facts from the group give an approximate estimation of 2—4 0/0. This figure is disturbingly high and must go down in the future.
After this the levels of antigen exposure were subJect of discussion. The opinion on the significance of the levels varies, and also the impact of daily massive versus intermittent exposure must be scrutinized.
There is a difference in prevalence of ALA among anifrfnal caretakers and scientific members of the staff.
Personal samplers may give answers to individual levels of exposure and result in advice on good working habits in order to reduce the exposure.
A theory was put forward that early in lfe exposure to animals may be of importance, and it was stressed that laboratory animal caretakers and researchers are recruited from different categories.
It was discussed whether atopic persons should be excluded from work with animals. The general opinion was no. It is not possible or desirable to do so. The individuals should be carefully informed about the risks and symptoms of allergy, and measures should be taken in order to minimize the risks.
It was pointed out that not only animals, but also bedding can be a problem.
Finally the nature of antigens was discussed. This is not always known, but rats and their urinary proteins result in the most frequent allergies. Rabbits’ hair and probably saliva and urinary proteins as main allergens rank second.