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A Journal on Internal Medicine and Pharmacology

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Gazzetta Medica Italiana Archivio per le Scienze Mediche 2011 December;170(6):411-7

language: English

Prevalence of dermatitis among health workers occupationally exposed to latex

Martini A. 1, Sorrentino R. 2, Signorini S. 3, D’Ovidio M. C. 1, Fantini S. 4

1 INAIL –Dipartimento Medicina del Lavoro ex ISPESL, Monte Porzio Catone, Rome, Italy
2 Azienda Ospedaliera S. Camillo-Forlanini Sezione Medicina del Lavoro, Rome, Italy
3 INAIL –Segreteria Tecnico-Scientifica ex ISPESL, Rome, Italy
4 ARES 118 - Azienda Regionale, Emergenza Sanitaria, Rome, Italy


Aim. Allergies are an important public health issue, and are frequent in the workplace. They therefore have a substantial socio-economic impact. Thousands of people are allergic to latex, but the problem is felt particularly by people at high risk, such as healthcare workers, since almost 50% of medical products they handle contain latex. The aim of the present study was to establish the prevalence of latex CAD (Contact Allergic Dermatitis) in a group of healthcare workers, to examine factors possibly related to latex allergy, and to test the diagnostic steps required to reach a decision on suitability for a job.
Methods. Between January and December 2004, 4032 health workers in the S. Camillo-Forlanini hospital in Rome received periodical/preventive health checks following a uniform survey procedure. All 4032 workers were given a questionnaire to complete. All were checked at a medical visit. The second-level screening protocol was applied only to people with positive findings in their medical history or the objective examination (an allergy specialist consultation; a dermatology specialist consultation; specific IgE assays and prick test).
Results. Out of the 4032 workers, 623 (15.4%) were found to have clinical pictures potentially related to the use of latex gloves. Of these, 186 (4.6% of the whole sample of 4032) had latex CAD confirmed by a prick test and specific IgE assays.
Conclusion. This survey confirmed that the incidence of CAD among health workers was slightly higher than in the general population.

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