Pet allergy: how important for Turkey where there is a low pet ownership rate

Dilşad Mungan, Gülfem Celik, Sevim Bavbek, Zeynep Misirligil
Allergy and Asthma Proceedings: 2003, 24 (2): 137-42
Exposure and sensitization to allergens derived from cats/dogs have been shown to represent an important risk factor for allergic respiratory diseases. So far, there has not been any study exploring cat/dog sensitization and related factors in our geographic location. The aim of this study was to determine the sensitization to cats/dogs in a group of patients with rhinitis and/or asthma and to evaluate the relationship between current and childhood exposure and sensitivity to pets. Three hundred twelve consecutive subjects with asthma and/or rhinitis were included in the study and were asked to reply a questionnaire concerning past and current pet ownership and presence of pet-related respiratory symptoms. After performing skin-prick tests, subjects were allocated into three groups: group 1 (n = 103), subjects with nonatopic asthma; group 2 (n = 54), allergic rhinitis and/or asthma patients with pet allergy; group 3 (n = 155), allergic rhinitis and/or asthma patients without pet allergy. Pet hypersensitivity was detected in 54 of 209 atopic subjects (25.8%). There was no difference in the rates of past pet ownership among subjects with (29.6%) and without (23.8%) pet allergy. However, the ratio of current pet ownership was higher in atopic patients with pet allergy (16.6%) than in nonatopic subjects (2.9%; p = 0.02). The prevalence of sensitization to pets in current owners (42.8%) was higher than prevalence of sensitization in patients who never had a pet (22.6%; p = 0.002; odds ratio, 2.67) and who owned a pet at childhood (28.2%; p = 0.038; odds ratio, 1.9). Thirteen subjects (13/54; 24%) described respiratory symptoms when exposed to cats and/or dogs. Rate of past pet ownership was similar in symptomatic and asymptomatic subjects with pet allergy (30.7% versus 29.2%; p > 0.05). Rate of current per ownership was higher in symptomatic subjects than in asymptomatic subjects with pet sensitivity (38.4% versus 9.5%; p < 0.0001). Our data indicate that pet allergens have the potential to become an important source of indoor allergens in our population. Our findings also suggest that current pet ownership--but not childhood pet keeping--seems to be a risk for the development of sensitization to pets.

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