Date: Fri Apr 14 13:04:01 2000
Posted By: Richard Deem, Staff, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Area of science: Immunology
Yes, it is possible to have an allergic reaction to "fish smells". A
recent report in the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology has
shown that fish proteins can be aerosolized and cause allergic
reactions in those people who are sensitive to fish proteins.
However, the context of the study was an open-air fish market, where
fish is being cut up, thrown around, etc. Aerosolization under less
extreme conditions is much less likely, and so probably does not
account for most reactions against fish smells. Most of the "fish
smell" is the result of ammonia production upon decay and
contamination of fish with bacteria. Those kinds of smells cannot
cause allergic reactions, but can cause psychological reponses.
Here is the study that I mentioned (and some others):
- Taylor AV. Swanson MC. Jones RT. Vives R. Rodriguez J.
Yunginger JW. Crespo JF. Detection and quantitation of raw fish
aeroallergens from an open-air fish market. Journal of Allergy &
- Crespo JF, Pascual C, Dominguez C, Ojeda I, Munoz FM, Esteban
MM. Allergic reactions associated with airborne fish particles in
IgE-mediated fish hypersensitive patients. Allergy
- Droszcz W, Kowalski J, Piotrowska B, Pawlowicz A, Pietruszewzka
E. Allergy to fish in fish meal factory workers. Int Arch Occup
Environ Health 1981;49:13-9.
- Douglas JD, McSharry C, Blaikie L, Morrow T, Miles S, Franklin D.
Occupational asthma caused by automated salmon processing.
- Rodriguez J, Reano M, Vives R, Canto G, Daroca P, Crespo JF, et
al. Occupational asthma caused by fish inhalation. Allergy
- Bahna SL. Exquisite food allergy without eating. Allergy
- Pascual CY, Crespo JF, Noche CD, Ojeda I, Ortega N, Esteban
MM. IgE-binding proteins in fish and fish steam. In: Wuthrich B,
Ortolani C, editors. Highlights in food allergy. Monogr Allergy
- Cartier A, Malo JL, Ghezzo H, McCants M, Lehrer SB. IgE
sensitization in snow crab-processing workers. J Allergy Clin
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