Researchers studying California veterinarians found a reported history of skin atopy in 11% and respiratory atopy in 63% of respondents. Dermatoses during their career were reported by 46% of respondents, and hand and/or forearm dermatitis was reported more than once during the past year by 22% of women and 10% of men. Dermatitis with work-related exacerbating factors was reported by 28%. Almost one in five veterinarians reported animal-related skin symptoms. Other aggravators were medications (2%), gloves (4%), and other chemicals (7%). Of those with animal-related dermatitis, 65% reported only one animal (dog, 66%; cat, 29%; horse, 9%; and cattle, 8%), and 66% reported the symptoms appeared in minutes after the contact. The risk factors for the appearance of hand/forearm dermatitis during the past 12 months and more than once during their career were history of skin atopy, childhood hand dermatitis, history of respiratory atopy, and female gender (10).

In a study of the Kansas Veterinary Medical Association, 24% of respondents reported noninfectious, recurrent/persistent hand or forearm dermatoses, of which 66% were work related. Large-animal veterinarians and persons with a history of atopy were more likely than their counterparts to attribute their dermatoses to work-related factors. Thirty-eight percent of respondents had contracted at least one infectious skin disease from an animal. Veterinarians who never or rarely use gloves during obstetric procedures were more likely to report work-related dermatoses than those who use gloves (11).

The use of latex gloves in veterinary practice is common, and latex allergies are a routine finding in veterinarians as well as in other health care fields (see Chapter 18).

In Poland, bull terrier seminal fluid was found as a source of contact urticaria and rhinoconjunctivitis. In Belgium, contact sensitivity was documented in health care workers, including veterinarians, to penicillins, cephalosporins, and aminoglycosides. In Germany, itching, swelling, and urticaria on the hands on arms of veterinarians were found after contact with amniotic fluid of cows and pigs. Immunoglobulin G (IgG) levels were elevated, radioallergosorbent test (RAST) investigations were positive to amniotic fluid, and skin tests were also positive to amniotic fluid. In all these cases, the use of gloves, either latex or a substitute, was recommended (12-14).

Researchers in the Netherlands assessed the incidence of pustular dermatitis after deliveries in cattle and sheep. One or more episodes of pustular dermatitis on an arm after a delivery in cattle or sheep was noticed by 81.5% of the respondents. Sometimes it was associated with secondary symptoms such as headache, fever, and lymphadenitis. Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella dublin were the agents cultured most often (15).

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