Tuesday, January 27, 1998 Published at 01:11 GMT
Put the cat out if you suffer asthma
Experts say that asthma sufferers should not keep cats as pets
Cats are one of the worst culprits for triggering asthma attacks, according to new research. But they are not alone.
Many animals can trigger the symptoms of asthma in susceptible sufferers.
- Up to 50% of children with asthma have their symptoms triggered by an allergy to cats, dogs or both.
- The urine from guinea pigs, rabbits and gerbils has been known to cause asthma attacks.
- Fish can cause problems too. Some people have an allergic reaction to the ants' eggs on which tropical fish feed.
- Pet allergens are found in fur, saliva, flakes of skin and urine.
- In the case of cats, the allergen is a protein called Fed d 1 produced from the animals' sebaceous glands and skin.
- This collects in the fur, and attached to dust particles, it can be blown through the air.
- Even brief exposure to a cat allergen can trigger an acute asthma attack in a sensitised person.
- The National Asthma Campaign says bathing cats and dogs once a week can help.
- People who suffer from asthma should ideally not keep some pets at all. But if they are in the house, they should be kept out of bedrooms and living rooms.
- Soft furniture such as cushions and chairs can contain high amounts of the cat allergen.