K Turjanmaa. Allergy. September (2001) Vol. 56 # 9 p 810.
An editorial on the subject of latex allergy.
Allergy to natural rubber latex (NRL) has been known for over 20 years.
While there remains no universal consensus on how to diagnose latex allergy- guidelines have been issued by the European Academy of Allergology and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) Allergy (1993) Vol. 48 supplement 14:57-62.
Skin prick tests are believed by the author to be the most reliable, but allergen assays are non-standard. That is, the materials applied to the skin to test for allergy differ in allergen composition and concentration.
EAACI are working on a revised guideline, now is the time to influence it.
Insurers may wish to consider becoming involved in the development of a standard for diagnosis. A widely accepted standard would reduce uncertainty.
In fact latex contains a number of allergens, some of which are shared by a wide range of plants and other organisms. A diagnosis of latex allergy would have to account for this lack of specificity.