Background: Occupational allergy to latex is generally reported from occupational groups such as health care workers; however, few reports derive from other occupational settings. Methods: Two male subjects working as loom tuners in a textile manufacturing plant developed severe allergic reactions during the cutting and weaving of elastic bands, initially not suspected to contain latex constituents. Clinical evaluation and lung function tests were supplemented by skin prick testing, specific IgE evaluation and basophil activation assays with extracted elastic bands. Results: Both workers presented with rhinitis, episodes of tight chest and itchy eyes. Initial spirometry was normal with no significant reversibility; however, a histamine challenge test was positive in one worker. Skin prick testing to a battery of common inhalant allergens was negative; however, raised IgE levels were detected to latex using ImmunoCAP. On further testing, the specific IgE response was directed mainly to the major latex allergens rHev b 5, rHev b 6.01, rHev b 6.02 and nHev b 13. Basophils of the two workers, but not the unaffected control subjects, were strongly activated by extracts of the elastic and the cutting dust material. Conclusions: Workers are at high risk of becoming sensitised to latex allergens when exposed to excessive dust produced by loom tuning machines. Latex sensitisation should therefore be considered in workers developing unexplained work-related allergic reactions (including asthma) associated with unlabelled materials in the textile industry.

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