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Occupational contact dermatitis from protein in sea products: who is the most affected, the fisherman or the chef?

BACKGROUND: Protein contact dermatitis has frequently been reported in case studies (usually in cases involving contact with seafood products), but there are very few descriptive series. The objectives of this present study were firstly to determine the incidence of protein contact dermatitis among fishermen in France and compare it with data from onshore work involving seafood exposure. Second, to discover what factors could explain any differences. In order to answer these questions we analysed data from the French national occupational disease surveillance and prevention network (RNV3P) and occupational diseases declared to the French National Network for Monitoring and Prevention of Occupational Disease. This retrospective study was done for a 13 year period.

CASE PRESENTATION: Between 2000 and 2012, we only found eight cases of protein contact dermatitis in the French network. There were no cases of protein contact dermatitis in the seafaring population. The eight cases from the French network are essentially allergies to different fish and chefs are the professionals most affected. Atopy is present in half of these cases. In the seafaring population we found several cases of allergic delayed-time contact dermatitis due to bryozoans and to gloves but no protein contact dermatitis.

CONCLUSIONS: Chefs who have to cook seafood are more at risk of occupational protein contact dermatitis than fishermen. We think that skin protection (that is to say glove wearing) is better implemented in the fishing sector than in the catering profession on shore in France.

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