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Original Article


Latex Allergy in Primary Care Providers


MJ Galindo1, S Quirce2, L García Olmos3

1Ramón y Cajal Primary Care Health Center, Area 8, Servicio Madrileño de Salud, Madrid, Spain
2Allergy Department, Hospital La Paz Health Research Institute (IdiPAZ), Madrid, Spain
3Teaching and Research Unit, Primary Care, Area 2, Madrid, Spain

J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol 2011; Vol. 21(6): 459-465



Background: Health care workers represent one of the major risk groups for developing latex allergy. Most studies have examined hospital workers. The aims of this study were to analyze the prevalence of latex allergy in primary care providers and to describe the characteristics of health care workers who are allergic to latex.

Material and methods: A self-administered questionnaire on work activity, history of symptoms, and allergic reactions to latex products was completed by a sample of primary care workers. Skin prick tests were performed with a commercial latex extract, and serum specific immunoglobulin (Ig) E to latex and its main allergens was determined.

Results: Of the 620 workers contacted, 341 completed the questionnaire and 170 were tested with latex allergens. The prevalence of latex allergy was 5.9% (95% confidence interval 2.4%-9.4%). Most allergic workers with a previous diagnosis of latex allergy showed negative or lowered specific IgE levels and a reduced wheal size to latex in comparison with the previous tests. We found 3 cases with elevated latex-specific IgE due to cross-reactivity with pollen profilin, although the results were not clinically relevant. Allergy to latex was associated with the number of surgical interventions and with allergy to kiwi, banana, chestnuts, and avocado.

Conclusions: The prevalence of latex allergy in this study was 5.9%. The importance of a firm diagnosis at the onset of symptoms should be stressed, since reducing contact with latex can yield negative test results. Assessment of IgE reactivity to the individual latex allergens (component-resolved diagnosis) can detect sensitization to panallergens such as profilin and help to clarify the diagnosis.

Key words: Healthcare workers. Specific IgE. Latex allergy. Prevalence. Skin tests.