Mink epithelium

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Code: e203
Latin name: Mustela spp.
Family: Mustelidae
Common names: Mink, American Mink, European Mink
Direct or indirect contact with animal allergens frequently causes sensitisation.

Allergen Exposure

Geographical distribution
The Mink is a small mammal of the Mustelidae family. This animal is a semi-aquatic carnivore related to the Weasel, and characterised by a slender body and thick, soft, dark-brown, durable fur that is highly valued commercially. To supply the demands of the fur industry, Minks are raised on a large scale on fur farms.
 
Environment
See under Geographical distribution.
 
Allergens
Allergens with the same molecular weight were found in the fur and urine extracts, the most prominent allergenic bands being of 62-67 kDa, 23-25 kDa and 18-19 kDa (1).

Potential Cross-Reactivity

In a report on Ferret allergy, the authors note that in a Mink-allergic subject, specific IgG to Ferret interfered with the specific IgE measurement; it was hypothesised that the Mink-allergic subject's serum contained similar and competing antibodies (2). Mink is a mammal of the same family as Ferret.

Clinical Experience

IgE mediated reactions
Asthma, allergic rhinitis and allergic conjunctivitis occur commonly in fur farmers and fur garment workers (3).
 
In 42 women occupationally exposed in the fur manufacturing industry, the highest prevalence of positive immediate skin reactions to antigens of animal hair was found for Marten (10%), followed by Fox and Lamb (7%), Mink (5%), and Chinese Lamb, Domestic Fox, and Chinese Calf (2%). Precipitating antibodies were demonstrated for Lamb (17%), Astrakhan (14%), Mink, Domestic Fox and Skunk (12%), Chinese lamb (10%), and Chinese Calf (7%) (4).
 
A patient who developed occupational asthma, characterised by dry cough, dyspoea, wheezing, rhinoconjunctival itching, sneezing and rhinorrhoea as a result of exposure to Mink urine has been reported. Skin-specific IgE was positive to Mink urine and negative to Mink pelt (5).
 
Compiled by Dr Harris Steinman, harris@zingsolutions.com

References

  1. Savolainen J, Uitti J, Halmepuro L, Nordman H. IgE response to fur animal allergens and domestic animal allergens in fur farmers and fur garment workers. Clin Exp Allergy. 1997;27(5):479-81.
  2. Codina R, Reichmuth D, Lockey RF, Jaen C. Ferret allergy. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2001;107(5):927
  3. Uitti J, Nordman H, Halmepuro L, Savolainen J. Respiratory symptoms, pulmonary function and allergy to fur animals among fur farmers and fur garment workers. Scand J Work Environ Health 1997;23(6):428-34
  4. Zuskin E, Kanceljak B, Stilinovic L, Schachter EN, Kopjar B. Immunological status and respiratory findings in furriers. Am J Ind Med 1992;21(3):433-41
  5. Jimenez Gomez I, Anton E, Picans I, Jerez J, Obispo T. Occupational asthma caused by mink urine. Allergy 1996;51(5):364-5

 

As in all diagnostic testing, the diagnosis is made by the physican based on both test results and the patient history.