Background: Latex allergy is becoming a major health concern among healthcare workers, of whom approximately 2.8 to 18% are reportedly sensitized.
Objective: The purpose of this study was to analyze the results of a natural rubber latex (NRL) allergy screening program to identify sensitized hospital employees.
Methods: Nurses (n = 130) assigned to operating theaters and intensive care units were evaluated using a written questionnaire for symptoms of atopy (asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis, and atopic eczyma), possible reactions to latex gloves, other medical devices and previous surgery. Serological testing for total immunoglobulin E (IgE), latex-specific IgE, and specific-IgE to melon, banana, kiwi, tomato, and chestnut were performed using Pharmacia CAP radioallergosorbent tests. Skin pick test (SPT) for latex allergen was also performed.
Results: Elevated serum total IgE was found in 22(16.9%) of the 130 nurses, 3(16.7%) of whom had increased latex-specific IgE further confirmed by SPT. The overall prevalence of latex allergy was 2.3% (3/130). No cross reactive fruit-allergy was found among the latex-sensitized nurses.
Conclusion: This study supports the existence of other forms of atopy are related to an increased risk of latex sensitization. The NRL screening program used in this study is feasible for use in identifying latex-sensitized employees.