Latex allergy continues to be an important occupational health problem as latex products are used increasingly worldwide, particularly in healthcare. Although there are few epidemiological studies on the incidence of latex allergy, there has been an increase in the number of case reports over the last 10 years and, based on skin-prick tests, estimates of prevalence of latex allergy in healthcare workers range from 2% to 17%. The allergic health effects arise either from the latex proteins, generally causing a type I immediate hypersensitivity reaction, or from the chemicals added to latex during processing, causing a type IV delayed hypersensitivity reaction. Clinical manifestations of latex allergy depend on the route of exposure and occur by direct contact either with skin or mucosa, or by inhalation. The diagnosis of latex allergy is based on the history, skin tests, serological tests and challenge tests. Thirteen latex allergens have been identified and isolated so far from natural rubber latex.
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