Animal Allergens, Endotoxin, and β-(1,3)-Glucan in Small Animal Practices: Exposure Levels at Work and in Homes of Veterinary Staff

Eva Zahradnik*, Ingrid Sander, Olaf Kleinmüller, Anne Lotz, Verena Liebers, Bente Janssen-Weets, Stéphanie Kler, Christiane Hilger, Alexandra Beine, Frank Hoffmeyer, Albert Nienhaus, Monika Raulf

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVES: In veterinary settings, high exposures to animal allergens and microbial agents can be expected. However, occupational exposure levels are largely unknown. The objective of this study was to estimate the allergen, endotoxin, and β-(1,3)-glucan concentrations in small animal practices and in the homes of practice employees. METHODS: Dust samples were collected using electrostatic dust fall collectors in diverse rooms of 36 small animal practices, as well as in employees' homes. Major animal allergens (Fel d 1, Can f 1, Ory c 3, Cav p 1, Equ c 1, Bos d 2), domestic mite (DM) allergens, and β-(1,3)-glucan levels were measured using enzyme immunoassays. Endotoxin was determined using the Limulus amoebocyte lysate assay. Influences on exposure levels were analyzed using multilevel models. RESULTS: The levels of Can f 1, Fel d 1, Ory c 3, and Cav p 1 were up to 30 times higher in practices compared with homes without animals, but significantly lower compared with the homes with the respective pet. Although horses were not treated in the practices, Equ c 1 was found in 87.5% of samples, with the highest concentrations measured in changing rooms. DM levels were significantly lower in practices than in all private homes, and endotoxin levels were similar to those in homes with pets. In the practice itself, exposure levels were significantly influenced by animal presence, type of the room, and area per employee; whereas, room volume and diverse cleaning measures had mostly no effect. CONCLUSIONS: Exposure to animal allergens is high in veterinary practices, but it does not reach levels of households with pets. Domestic mite allergen and endotoxin exposure seem to be low for workers in veterinary practices. The high Equ c 1 detection rate strongly indicates dispersal of allergens, most likely through clothing and hair.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-40
Number of pages14
JournalAnnals of Work Exposures and Health
Issue number1
Early online date7 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jan 2022


  • animal allergens
  • cat
  • dog
  • endotoxin
  • guinea pig
  • horse
  • occupational exposure
  • rabbit
  • veterinary practice
  • β-(1,3)-glucan


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