What is the role of rodent aeroallergens in the etiology of allergic diseases?

Updated: Jul 07, 2019
  • Author: Bhumika Patel, MD; Chief Editor: Michael A Kaliner, MD  more...
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Rodents are the largest population of mammals in the world. The order Rodentia includes rat, mouse, guinea pig, hamster and gerbil. Rodents with less known clinical significance include beaver, muskrat, porcupine, woodchuck, chipmunk, squirrel, prairie dog, chinchilla, and others. Eighty-two percent of homes had detectable mouse Mus m1 allergen in a national US housing survey. Levels of rodent allergen are higher in older, mobile, and low-income homes and in high-rise apartments. Studies also show increased levels of rodent allergens in schools and daycare centers. Exposure to the major mouse allergen, Mus m 1, above 1.6 µg per gram of dust is associated with sensitization and may be a significant cause of asthma. [96]

Laboratory animal facility workers typically develop sensitization within the first three years of employment. Approximately 1/3 of these workers develop allergy to the animal and 1/3 of those who develop allergies will develop asthma. An atopic history and the intensity of exposure are risk factors for developing sensitization and symptoms. [96] Please refer to the “Environmental Assessment and Exposure Reduction of Rodents: a Practice Parameter” for recommendations to reduce rodent exposure in the animal facility setting.

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