Asthma, airway symptoms and rhinitis in office workers in Malaysia: Associations with house dust mite (HDM) allergy, cat allergy and levels of house dust mite allergens in office dust

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Abstract

A prevalence study was conducted among office workers in Malaysia (N= 695). The aim of this study was to examine associations between asthma, airway symptoms, rhinitis and house dust mites (HDM) and cat allergy and HDM levels in office dust. Medical data was collected by a questionnaire. Skin prick tests were performed for HDM allergens (Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus, Dermatophagoides farinae) and cat allergen Felis domesticus. Indoor temperature and relative air humidity (RH) were measured in the offices and vacuumed dust samples were analyzed for HDM allergens. The prevalence of D. pteronyssinus, D. farinae and cat allergy were 50.3%, 49.0% and 25.5% respectively. Totally 9.6% had doctor-diagnosed asthma, 15.5% had current wheeze and 53.0% had current rhinitis. The Der p 1 (from D. pteronyssinus) and Der f 1 (from D. farinae) allergens levels in dust were 556 ng/g and 658 ng/g respectively. Statistical analysis was conducted by multilevel logistic regression, adjusting for age, gender, current smoking, HDM or cat allergy, home dampness and recent indoor painting at home. Office workers with HDM allergy had more wheeze (p= 0.035), any airway symptoms (p= 0.032), doctor-diagnosed asthma (p= 0.005), current asthma (p= 0.007), current rhinitis (p= 0.021) and rhinoconjuctivitis (p< 0.001). Cat allergy was associated with wheeze (p= 0.021), wheeze when not having a cold (p= 0.033), any airway symptoms (p= 0.034), doctor-diagnosed asthma (p= 0.010), current asthma (p= 0.020) and nasal allergy medication (p= 0.042). Der f 1 level in dust was associated with daytime breathlessness (p= 0.033) especially among those with HDM allergy. Der f 1 levels were correlated with indoor temperature (p< 0.001) and inversely correlated with RH (p< 0.001). In conclusion, HDM and cat allergies were common and independently associated with asthma, airway symptoms and rhinitis. Der f 1 allergen can be a risk factor for daytime breathlessness.

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Lim, F. L., Hashim, Z., Than, L. T. L., Said, S. M., Hashim, J. H., & Norbäck, D. (2015). Asthma, airway symptoms and rhinitis in office workers in Malaysia: Associations with house dust mite (HDM) allergy, cat allergy and levels of house dust mite allergens in office dust. PLoS ONE, 10(4). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0124905

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