Background Larvae of insects and worms, used as live fish bait (LFB), are a common source of allergy in anglers and occupationally exposed workers, but the prevalence and predictors have not yet been investigated.
Objective This study assessed the prevalence and associated factors of occupational allergy in workers exposed to LFB.
Methods We assessed the prevalence of sensitization to LFB and work-related symptoms (WRS) in 76 workers occupationally exposed to it. All workers completed a case history questionnaire and underwent skin prick tests (SPT) for common aeroallergens and bluebottle (Calliphora vomitoria), bee moth (Galleria mellonella), mealworm (Tenebrio molitor), and gusano rojo (Cilecomadia moorei). Specific IgE were tested in 64 subjects. Two-thirds of the workers had a high level of LFB exposure.
Results Sensitization to LFB was found in 24 workers (31.6%). Seven subjects (9.2%) reported WRS (asthma in 3, rhinoconjunctivitis in 5, and contact urticaria in 1), and 5 were positive for SPT and serum IgE to one or more LFB extracts. One was also exposed to LFB while fishing. Sensitization to LFB extracts and WRS were strongly associated (Odds Ratio = 6.6, P < 0.05). The 7 subjects with WRS had been exposed longer than asymptomatic subjects with positive skin tests to LFB (P < 0.05). No differences in sex, age, smoking habit, duration or level of exposure, and atopy were detected in symptomatic or in sensitized subjects, compared with normal workers.
Conclusion Sensitization to LFB and WRS are relatively frequent in occupationally exposed workers. No associated factors of occupational allergy to LFB could be detected.