Public Release: 

Mouse exposure shows stronger link to asthma-related emergency department visits than cockroach exposure

American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology

Past research has been inconsistent in determining the relative effects of mouse droppings vs. cockroach exposure on asthma in children. According to a study being presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting in Atlanta, November 6-10, mice infestation is a stronger predictor of asthma-related emergency department visits in young children than exposure to cockroaches. The study examined 49 children under the age of 4, residing in the Bronx, New York. Both skin prick testing and blood tests were done to determine allergic response. Children who were found to be allergic to mice - based on either testing method - appeared to be more likely to have had at least one asthma-related emergency department visit in the prior 12 months compared to children not allergic to mice. Allergy to roach - based on either testing method - did not predict asthma-related emergency department visits in the prior 12 months. The study concluded that mice infestation is a strong predictor of mouse-specific allergy and risk for flares of asthma in young, inner-city children - stronger than roach infestation and roach allergy.

Title: Association Between Mouse and Cockroach Skin Prick Test, Serum Specific IgE, Environmental Exposure and Asthma Morbidity in Atopic Children under 4 Years of Age in the Bronx, New York

Author: Aaron Richler, MD candidate, ACAAI member

By the Numbers: Asthma is a serious disease that affects 26 million Americans, a number that is increasing annually. Asthma results in 4,000 deaths and 2.1 million emergency room visits every year.

The greatest rise in asthma rates is among African American children with an almost 50 percent increase from 2001 through 2009. Parents of children with asthma should ask their primary care provider or pediatrician for a referral to an allergist as many treatments are covered by Medicaid. A lot of children with asthma are seen in either urgent care centers or emergency departments, which is expensive and not the best source of care. Not only are allergists experts in treating asthma, they are trained to help assess home environments to help identify and reduce environmental exposures that may cause or worsen asthma.

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