Allergy to inhaled egg material


Dr John Edwards, MRC Pneumoconiosis Unit, Llandough Hospital, Penarth, S. Glamorgan CF6 1XW


The use of a spray system to coat meat rolls with egg solution resulted in the development of asthmatic type symptoms in eight of thirteen workers exposed to the spray. Symptoms were severe in five workers, less severe in two, and one worker experienced vague symptoms. Even though precipitins were present in nine of the workers there were no pyrexial episodes nor influenza-like symptoms occurring some hours after inhaling the egg material to suggest extrinsic allergic alveolitis.

All sera with precipitins reacted against an antigen in egg yolk, two sera only to this antigen but no precipitins to ovalbumin were detected. Lung function, X-ray and haematology provided no evidence that the inhalation of egg had lasting detrimental effects.

There was no correlation between clinical response, skin testing, IgE levels and precipitins, hence, for each individual none of these parameters is predictive. However, collectively the results show sensitization and this has been confirmed by lack of symptoms when a different method of coating the pastry was adopted.