Background: Allergic reactions to natural rubber latex have increased during the past 10 years, especially in many health care workers (HCWs) who have high exposure to latex allergens. The prevalence of skin test reactions to natural rubber latex in Russia, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), and eastern Europe is unknown.
Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of skin test reactivity to natural rubber latex in a population of HCWs exposed to latex.
Methods: Nine hundred one HCWs regularly exposed to latex were evaluated using an allergy history questionnaire. Subjects were tested for latex allergy by titrated skin prick test with a biologically standardized latex extract. The diagnosis of latex allergy was defined by the presence of clinical symptoms when exposed to latex along with a positive skin prick test to latex.
Results: Forty-nine (5.4%) HCWs were skin test-positive to latex. Seventeen (1.9%) HCWs were classified as latex-allergic based upon positive skin tests to latex associated with allergy symptoms with exposure. Seven of 901 HCWs had experienced anaphylactic reactions to latex. The most frequently reported symptom related to latex exposure was contact urticaria.
Conclusions: The prevalence of latex allergy among HCWs in Russia, the CIS, and adjacent eastern European countries is considerably less than reported in HCWs exposed to latex in western Europe and the United States. The low prevalence of latex allergy in Russia and the CIS suggests that lessened exposure to natural latex powdered gloves may diminish the prevalence of latex sensitization in HCWs in Russia and the CIS.