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Latex allergy.

Allergy to natural rubber latex is an important clinical condition that occurred after the institution of universal precautions to protect healthcare workers. A rapid increase and production of both examination and surgical gloves resulted in an epidemic of allergy to latex protein. Healthcare workers in both the medical and dental environments, as well as specific groups of individuals including those with spina bifida, myelodysplasia, and food allergies (banana, kiwi, avocado, and others), were at increased risk of sensitization. Clinical symptoms in the latex allergic individual ranged from type I hypersensitivity reaction including rhinoconjunctivitis, asthma, and systemic reaction to type IV hypersensitivity reaction, which occur from the chemicals added during the manufacturing process. Diagnosis of latex allergy is based on a clinical history that correlates the development of symptoms in relationship to exposure. In the United States there are no skin tests approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Therefore a combination of clinical judgment and serologic testing such as ImmunoCAP and Immulite is helpful. The primary treatment of latex allergy is avoidance of exposure to the latex protein.

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