Pet allergies: November 2006 Archives

Allergy-proof cats, again

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siberian catWheeze. Sneeze. Sniffle.

Recent news reports have dangled a stratospherically priced option for wannabe cat owners who are allergic to the bewhisker-ed, twitchy-tailed set. Just plunk down $3,950 (plus a $995 processing and transportation fee) for a hypoallergenic Allerca cat. (For an extra $1,950 "premium placement" fee, you can jump the two-year waiting list and get one next spring.)

Or you can just buy a Siberian for about $700.

"Siberian breeders have already bred a hypoallergenic cat, but people tend not to believe breeders," says cat geneticist Leslie Lyons of the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California at Davis. "And now here comes a company that says the same thing. It all comes down to marketing."

Allergies are on the increase

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pet allergyby Aliki Nassoufis, German Press Agency

GERMANY - For many people contact with household pets is a normal part of their daily routine. But enjoyment of animals can quickly turn sour once a member of the family develops an allergy to a guinea pig or cat. That allergy can manifest itself in sneezing fits, respiratory problems and watery eyes.

In Germany, about 10 per cent of the population is allergic to house pets.

"From a medical standpoint the best thing to do is give the pet away," says Anja Schwalfenberg of Germany's Allergy and Asthma Association in Moenchengladbach.

Although such a measure seems drastic, a pet owner should weigh up how bad their allergy symptoms are without treatment as an allergy can lead to chronic asthma.

Cat Allergy: A Widespread Problem

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cat allergyCat is a well-known aeroallergen which may precipitate symptoms of allergic rhinitis and asthma in cat-sensitive individuals. When such patients are seen and evaluated, they are usually told to try and minimize their exposure to cat allergen. If they have a cat, they may be told to find a new home for the cat or to move it primarily outside. As a minimal step, they are asked to never let the cat into the bedroom.

Despite the best efforts to minimize cat allergen exposure in such patients, often they continue to have trouble. New technology to assess both airborne and settled allergen levels show that cat allergen can be found nearly everywhere in indoor environments. In this study, conducted in different locations in Europe, Heinrich and coworkers attempted to quantify the level of cat allergen in mattress dust and to determine whether there was a relationship between the levels of cat allergen in a given community and the level of specific IgE to cat.