Facilities react to growing number of allergies to latex

By Linda L. Mullen
The South Bend Tribune
April 13, 1997

PLYMOUTH — For 17 years, Barbara Strus worked as a nurse’s technician. She loved it so much she voluntarily cross-trained to serve in seven different areas of Pulaski Memorial Hospital in Winamac.

Strus especially liked working with babies. She assisted in deliveries, set up the sterile equipment, and would bathe, cradle and feed infants in the nursery. Strus felt privileged.

But then Strus had to quit the job she loved. She got another one: packing spark plug wires for a local factory.

“I loved my job at the hospital,” Strus said. “It was a big blow to me when I had to get out of the health environment.”

Strus needed to end her career in the health-care field because she developed an allergy to latex, the milky sap from the rubber tree. She could no longer wear latex gloves, handle bandages, or even use a stethoscope, because all were made of latex.

The first medical report of a latex allergy was made in 1979, when a woman in Great Britain reacted to household rubber gloves. About 50 cases were recorded by 1988. In the fall of 1989, the Food and Drug Administration started receiving reports of patients going into anaphylactic shock when a latex-cuffed enema was used. Sixteen patients died.

Anesthesia equipment and intravenous catheters also cause reactions, according to the National Centers for Disease Control. It’s a common allergy for people with a history of early and/or recurrent medical procedures, such as children with spina bifida.

The problem of latex allergies, Strus said, escalated in 1992 when the Occupational Safety and Health Administration began advising health-care workers to wear gloves “for just about anything.” Two years prior to that, Strus suspected she had the allergy, but when she started using the gloves all the time, her occasional rash progressed to swollen eyes and respiratory problems.

In 1996, Pulaski hospital officials sent Strus to a specialist in Indianapolis, who advised her to leave her job before it became fatal. They also told her to avoid some everyday objects, like tennis shoes with latex soles, latex balloons, the conveyor belt at the grocery, and even car tires.

Most birth-control condoms and diaphragms are made of latex, too. From 1988 to 1991, the FDA received 44 reports of allergic reactions associated with condom use. For those who are not sensitive, there is no reason to stop using condoms. Latex also is found in underwear elastic, rubber bands, carpet backing, and toys.

Symptoms of the reactions to latex can include skin rash, itching, hives, tears, burning eyes, swollen lips and tongue, difficulty in breathing, dizziness, fainting, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, and low or plummeting blood pressure. A shot of epinephrine is often used to counteract shock.

In recent years, all hospitals are scrambling to address this relatively new allergy, which may be escalating since latex has become the number one defense against the HIV virus.

Copyright © 1997 The South Bend Tribune
Reproduced here with permission.

Table of Contents

Latex Allergy Links — Main Menu

Latex Allergy Links Message Board

Toys & Baby Products — Manufacturers’ Phone Numbers

Latex Gloves in Food Operations PDF
Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services Sep 07 2001

Ever more complex;
Lawsuits and increasing regulation mount as argument over NR latex policies rages

Miles Moore Rubber & Plastics News Jul 30 2001

Living With Latex: Where to be alert for latex
Medical University of South Carolina Children’s Hospital

Handle with care
Ben Van Houten Restaurant Business Aug 01 2000

Allergenic Cross-Reactivity of Latex and Foods
Greer Labs Technical Bulletin #10 Jan 05 2000

Latex Allergy: Another Real Y2K Issue
Lisa M. Jennings, RN CRRN Rehabilitation Nursing Jul/Aug 1999

Potential for Allergy to Natural Rubber Latex Gloves and other Natural Rubber Products
OSHA Technical Information Bulletin Apr 12 1999

Looking Out for Latex
Sandra A. Holmes Science and Children Feb 1999

The Vow of Silence
Marianne McAndrew Journal of Nursing Administration Feb 1999

The legal implications of latex allergy
Peter Kohn RN Jan 1999

Latex Allergy: Everyone’s Concern
Lawrence D. Duffield, DDS Journal of the Michigan Dental Association Jun 1998

Allergen Content of Latex Gloves.
A Market Surveillance Study of Medical Gloves Used in Finland in 1997

Palosuo, Turjanmaa, & Reinikka-Railo

User Facility Reporting Bulletin
selected articles FDA Fall 1997

Latex Allergy Alert
Christine Ozment Exceptional Parent Oct 1997

Latex gloves hand health workers a growing worry
Margaret Veach American Medical News Oct 13 1997

Living with Latex
Lisa Legge Nursing Minnesota Aug 1997

Research Review:
Association between latex sensitization and repeated latex exposure in children

Victoria M. Steelman RN, PhD(c), CNOR AORN Journal Jul 1997

Latex allergy: How safe are your gloves?
Kenneth K. Meyer, MD, FACS and Donald H. Beezhold, PhD
American College of Surgeons Bulletin Jul 1997

User Facility Reporting Bulletin
FDA Spring 1997

Latex allergy among staff poses major headache for hospitals
Meredith Goad Press Herald Portland, ME May 06 1997

Oregon picks up latex glove controversy
Patrick O’Neill The Oregonian Portland, OR Apr 21 1997

Facilities react to growing number of allergies to latex
Linda L. Mullen South Bend Tribune South Bend, IN Apr 13 1997

Growing number of HCW’s developing dangerous reactions to latex
Liz Kowalczyk The Patriot Ledger Quincy, MA Apr 01 1997

Shriners Hospital Stops Using Latex
Pat Cahill Springfield Union Springfield, MA Mar 07 1997

Latex Allergy and Contraception
The Contraception Report Patient Update Mar 1997

Is Latex Paint Hazardous To Latex Allergy Sufferers?
Don Groce Latex Allergy News Oct 1996

Cotton, Nylon, Lycra Spandex and Allergies
Don Groce Latex Allergy News Sep 1996

Paving, Asphalt, Tires & Latex Allergies
Don Groce Latex Allergy News Aug 1996

Special Bulletin: Latex Allergy
American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology

Q & A: Latex Allergies
American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology

Preguntas y Respuestas: Alergias al Látex
Asociación Americana de Alergia, Asma e Inmunología

Latex Allergy Survival Kit
Nancy Mitchell 1996

Downloadable/Printable Latex Allergy Signs
For personal, non-commercial use only

Pre-1996 FDA documents
Miscellaneous legislative and other documents

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