What's the Buzz

What's the Buzz

How to control pet allergy symptoms

Allergists have said that removing dogs and cats from your home isn’t enough to avoid pet allergy.

They suggested the use of immunotherapy – allergy shots – combined with environmental changes to help control pet allergy symptoms.

“This is a common allergy that touches the hearts of so many,” said Dana Wallace, MD, ACAAI president. “More than 90 per cent of homes have measurable dog and cat allergens and 52 per cent of homes have a pet. So not only is it a common allergy, but the allergen is everywhere,” Wallace stated. Dr. Wallace discusses the benefit of specific environmental interventions and the effectiveness of allergy shots for individuals who want to live comfortably with their pet.

She suggested some changes to reduce animal dander in the home, such as removing the animal from the bedroom to create an “allergy free zone,” using bleach to reduce the allergen on clothing or bedding, using HEPA room air cleaners and a HEPA vacuum, bathing animals regularly etc.

Vaccine to give protection against all flu strains
A single flu vaccine that would protect against all strains of the virus for life may be coming soon, which could make annual flu jabs that cost the NHS around 100m pound per year a history.

Scientists working on the universal flu jab, known as Flu-v, are in the early stages of development but hope to offer a product to the NHS within three to five years.

The company behind the drug, SEEK, will present the results of a small-scale clinical trial at the Influenza Congress in Washington DC soon. Results so far have shown that it can significantly reduce infection rates and also cut the severity of symptoms.

The team behind Flu-v has managed to isolate a thread common to all strains of flu and by targeting that element, rather than the changing ‘outer coat’, the vaccine can cater for all requirements. That means it would protect against strains of bird flu and swine flu, as well as seasonal variants.

Room fresheners can trigger allergies, worsen asthma
Use of room fresheners and scented candles can cause respiratory problems and worsen asthma, allergists have warned.

“This is a much bigger problem than people realize,” said Stanley Fineman, MD, ACAAI president-elect.

“About 20 percent of the population and 34 percent of people with asthma report health problems from air fresheners. We know air freshener fragrances can trigger allergy symptoms, aggravate existing allergies and worsen asthma,” he said.

Home fragrance products may smell “fresh,” but Dr. Fineman warned many of these products contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and are merely “covering up” —not eliminating—odours in the home.

VOCs commonly found in air fresheners include: formaldehyde, petroleum distillates, limonene, esters and alcohols. Studies revealed that even VOC exposure levels below currently accepted recommendations increase risk of asthma in children.

High concentrations of VOCs can trigger eye and respiratory tract irritation, headaches, dizziness, and even memory impairment.

Dr. Fineman noted a study of plug-in deodorizers that included more than 20 different VOCs with more than one third of those classified as toxic or hazardous.