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Original Article


Is Sensitization to Furry Animals an Independent Allergic Phenotype in Nonoccupationally Exposed Individuals?


G Liccardi,1 G Passalacqua,2 A Salzillo,1 A Piccolo,1 P Falagiani,3 M Russo,1 GW Canonica,2 G D’Amato1

1Department of Chest Diseases, Division of Pneumology and Allergology, High Speciality “A.Cardarelli” Hospital, Naples, Italy
2Allergy and Respiratory Diseases, DIMI, University of Genoa, Genoa, Italy
3Lofarma Laboratories, Milan, Italy

J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol 2011; Vol. 21(2): 137-141



Background: Patients sensitized to common pets (cat, dog) frequently display an immunoglobulin (Ig) E–mediated response to allergens from other animals.

Objective: To evaluate whether individuals sensitized to common pets might be at higher risk of developing allergic sensitization to other mammalian allergens.

Methods: The study population comprised 900 consecutive patients (300 individuals sensitized to different allergens including those of cat and dog [group A], 300 sensitized to allergens other than those derived from cat and dog [group B], and 300 nonsensitized individuals [group C, controls]). All patients underwent a physical examination, an interview (clinical history, pet ownership, possible exposure data), and skin prick test (SPT) with a standard panel of allergens including cat, dog, horse, rabbit, rat, mouse, guinea pig, hamster, and cow.

Results: A significant difference in allergic sensitization to mammalian allergens was observed in group A compared with group B (respectively, 244 vs 17). No sensitization was found in group C.

Conclusion: Since sensitization to pet allergens increases the risk of developing allergy to other furry animals, we suggest performing SPTs with several mammalian allergens to identify allergic sensitization and thus prevent future exposure in individuals who are highly sensitized and environmentally exposed to common pets.

Key words: Allergic rhinitis. Bronchial asthma. Cat. Dog. Furry animals. Hypersensitivity. Pet allergy. Sensitization to animals.