Allergen Sensitivity (Mites, Insects, and Pets) in a Puerto Rican Population

Sylvette Nazario, Rafael Zaragoza, Vylma Velázquez, Gilberto Ramos-Valencia, Carmen Acantilado, Ray Rodríguez, Angel M Rivera, María M. Álvarez, Carlos López-Almodóvar, Fernando López-Malpica


Objective: The people of Puerto Rico have one of the highest asthma prevalence and morbidity rates in the USA. Limited information is available on the most common allergy sensitivities among island residents. The aims of the study were to determine the most common inhalant allergen sensitivities among a convenience sample in Puerto Rico and determine as well their relationship to an asthma or a rhinitis diagnosis. Methods: In August of 2008, we evaluated a cohort of subjects visiting ambulatory clinics offering health screening; the clinics were located in two of the island’s biggest cities: Guaynabo in the north and Ponce in the south. Subjects over three years of age (or their parents) visiting the clinics answered a survey on asthma and rhinitis and were skin tested for reactivity to common aeroallergens. Results: The survey included 395 subjects with a mean age of 29 years. Thirty-six percent reported a history of asthma, of whom 83% (30% of the total participants) reported still having asthma, and 76% reported having rhinitis. Sixty-five percent of the subjects were sensitive to at least one antigen. Subjects sensitive to mites were 53% more likely to have suffered from asthma than were non–mite-sensitized subjects (OR = 1.53, p < 0.05) Sensitivity to mosquitoes (OR = 2.25, p < 0.02), mites (OR = 2.53, p < 0.00001), feathers (OR = 2.72, p < 0.03), dogs (OR = 3.02, p < 0.01), or cats (OR = 3.42, p < 0.001) increased an individual’s likelihood of suffering from rhinitis. Conclusion: The most common sensitivities identified were to mites and insects. Mite sensitivity was associated with rhinitis and asthma. Sensitivity to animal dander as well as to mosquitoes was associated to with rhinitis. Further studies are warranted to explore the relevance of allergen sensitivity in terms of asthma and rhinitis prevalence and morbidity among residents of Puerto Rico.


asthma;Puerto Rico; Skin test

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