Purpose of review: This review explores animal allergen exposure in research laboratories and other work settings, focusing on causes and prevention.
Recent findings: (1) Consistent with the hygiene hypothesis, there is new evidence that early childhood exposure to pets produces changes in the gut microbiome that likely lead to a lower risk of allergy. (2) Anaphylaxis from laboratory animal bites occurs more frequently than suggested by prior literature. (3) Animal allergens represent an occupational hazard in a wide variety of work settings ranging from fields that work with animals to public settings like schools and public transportation where allergens are brought into or are present in the workplace. Exposure to animal allergens can result in allergy, asthma, and anaphylaxis. Animal allergy has been most studied in the research laboratory setting, where exposure reduction can prevent the development of allergy. Similar prevention approaches need to be considered for other animal work environments and in all settings where animal allergens are present.
Keywords: Animal allergy; Animal bite anaphylaxis; Laboratory animal allergy; Occupational allergy; Occupational asthma.