Perry T, Matsui E, Merriman B, Duong T, Eggleston P. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2003;112:346–352
Purpose of the Study.
To determine the prevalence of rat allergen in the homes of inner-city children with asthma and to examine the relationship between rat allergen exposure, sensitization, and asthma morbidity
Children enrolled in the National Cooperative Inner-City Asthma Study were studied.
Dust samples collected from the homes of 1528 asthmatic children from 8 major inner-city areas were analyzed with the use of a new monoclonal antibody-based enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, to determine the prevalence of rat allergen in dust samples from inner-city homes of the National Cooperative Inner-City Asthma Study population. Home characteristics were evaluated to identify variables that were associated with the presence of rat allergen. Data were also analyzed to assess the relationships between the presence of rat allergen, sensitization, and asthma morbidity.
Thirty-three percent of inner-city homes had detectable rat allergen (Rat n 1). The presence of rat allergen was associated with reported rat and mouse infestation, as well as evidence of mouse infestation in home inspections. Twenty-one percent of the participants were sensitized to rat allergen; however, sensitization was not more common when rat allergen was found in the home. The numbers of hospitalizations, unscheduled medical visits, and days with decreased activity because of asthma were significantly increased for individuals who were both sensitized and exposed to rat allergen.
Rat allergen sensitization and exposure were associated with increased asthma morbidity among inner-city children.
Rodent allergens are known to cause immunoglobulin E-mediated hypersensitivity in occupational settings. Recently, mouse allergen was identified as an important allergen among asthmatic children. This is the first study to investigate the prevalence and significance of rat allergen in inner-city homes. The most remarkable finding in this study was the relationship between rat allergen and morbidity among inner-city asthmatic children. These results suggest that rat allergen exposure is an important public health concern and control measures should be implemented in inner-city neighborhoods. Rat allergen reduction measures might have significant effects on asthma morbidity and might reduce overall health care utilization for inner-city children with asthma.