Secondary prevention of allergic symptoms in a dairy farmer by use of a milking robot
1 Institute and Outpatient Clinic of Occupational, Social and Environmental Medicine, University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Schillerstrasse 25/29, D-91054 Erlangen, Germany
2 Department of Medical Informatics, Biometry and Epidemiology, University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Waldstrasse 6, D-91054 Erlangen, Germany
Clinical and Molecular Allergy 2005, 3:8 doi:10.1186/1476-7961-3-8Published: 22 June 2005
Animal-derived allergens include lipocalins which play an increasing role in occupational respiratory sensitizations. The prevention of sensitization in stock farming is often difficult due to intense exposure, with traditional milking still requiring close animal contact. Complete avoidance of allergen exposure is only possible if stock farming is abandoned. This is, however, often not feasible in small dairy plants because of the resulting loss of income.
In a 37-year-old female farmer daily asthmatic complaints appeared, associated with cow dust-derived allergen exposure by milking with a conventional device. Respiratory symptoms increased during a period of 12 years. Allergic bronchial asthma was diagnosed, caused by sensitization against cow dust-derived allergens, as demonstrated by positive skin prick test and by detection of IgE antibodies. In a separate specific inhalation challenge test using a 10% extract of cow dust-derived allergens a 330% increase of airway resistance was detected. To enable further dairy farming, a milking robot was installed in 1999, i.e., an automatic milking system. The novel milking technique reduced the daily exposure from over 2 hours to approximately 10 min. The clinical course after the installation of the milking robot was favourable, with less frequent allergic and asthmatic symptoms. Furthermore, asthma medication could be reduced. Improvement was noted also in terms of lung-function and decreased total serum IgE.
The case presented and the evidence from the literature indicates that the strategy of exposure minimization to allergens at workplaces can be an effective alternative to total elimination. In farmers with cow dust allergy a milking robot is an appropriate technical measure to minimize allergen-exposure.