oa Current Allergy & Clinical Immunology - Allergens and asthma in the workplace : review article

Volume 27, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1609-3607



My interest in allergies and asthma began as a child when my younger brother was diagnosed with asthma at a very early age, resulting in frequent visits to the doctor. A decade later, I witnessed two contrasting incidents in my job as an intern - one of a young man presenting to the emergency room in status asthmaticus that proved to be fatal, and the other, a young women who had been successfully resuscitated from an anaphylactic episode. In neither patient was I to discover the actual cause, except surmising that some allergen was at play. Ever since, I have been intrigued by how an allergen, unseen to the naked eye, enters the body through various routes (inhalation, skin or ingestion) and causes a reaction in another part of the body, manifesting in different ways - hives, itchy eyes or a runny nose, tight chest or wheeze, or full-blown, generalised anaphylactic shock. A decade or so later I embarked on a journey of allergen discovery that enabled me to begin to unravel some of these intriguing questions in various South African workplaces.

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