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Asian Ladybug Allergies

New research presented at the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology's 2006 Annual Meeting in Miami Beach, shows that Asian ladybugs, also known as Harmonia axyridis, have the potential to cause a reaction for allergy sufferers in spring, fall and winter.

Kusum Sharma, MD, at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, and colleagues were attempting to prove if Asian ladybugs could cause hypersensitivity, and if that was the case, find out the prevalence of self-reported ladybug allergy. The researchers delivered an anonymous survey to ninety-nine respondents, with 50 percent saying they were allergic to Asian ladybugs. Nineteen percent of the people reported allergy symptoms on direct contact with ladybugs and 31 percent said they used more allergy medication during times of Asian ladybug infestation.

Overall respondents said that allergy symptoms were worse during spring, fall and winter infestation and researchers concluded that allergic patients should limit their exposure to the Asian ladybugs but that researchers also need to think of the creatures as a potential allergen.

Sensitization to Ladybugs is Comparable to Cockroach and Cat Allergy
A additional new study conducted by David W. Goetz, MD, of Exemplar Allergy and Asthma, Morgantown, WV, shows that Asian ladybug sensitization is similar to cockroach allergy and can be found in people of all ages.

Goetz's study reviewed about 1,400 skin tests over the years from 2001-2004. Skin-test sensitization for Asian ladybugs was 21%. In comparison, sensitization to cat was 24%, cockroach was 27% and dust mite was 40%. When people had sensitization to just one allergen, 10% of the time it was for dust mite, 6% for cockroach or Asian ladybug, and 4% for cat.

The study showed that cockroach and ladybug have a high degree of skin-test compatibility. Asian ladybugs also have a unique feature - they found skin sensitization was greater in patients living in rural areas compared to those living in the city.

Asian Ladybugs are an Increasing Indoor Allergen
A third study on Asian ladybug allergen conducted by Takuya Nakazawa, MD, Asthma and Allergy Center, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, and colleagues also showed the compatibility between Asian ladybug and cockroach allergies and that Asian ladybugs have recently become a new indoor allergen.

Twelve patients with symptoms that included cough, rhinitis, conjunctivitis and acute asthma took part in Nakazawa's study. The patients were exposed to Asian ladybugs and had a positive skin prick test after exposure, proving that Asian ladybugs are a possible indoor allergen. The cross reactivity with cockroach allergens became evident after a test that was performed showed the Asian ladybug proteins would give a false positive result for cockroach allergens.

These studies were presented at the 2006 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI). The AAAAI is the largest professional medical specialty organization in the United States representing allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic disease.


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