Chinchilla epithelium

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Code: e208
Latin name: Chinchilla laniger
Source material: Epithelium
Family: Chinchillidae
Common names: Chinchilla
The 11 Chinchillas brought to the US in 1923 to be the basis of commercial Chinchilla breeding there belonged to either the species Chinchilla laniger (long-tailed) or Chinchilla brevicaudata (short-tailed).
Direct or indirect contact with animal allergens frequently causes sensitisation. Animal allergens may be major components of house dust.

Allergen Exposure

Geographical distribution
The Chinchilla, a medium-sized, round-eared rodent, lives in the Andes of Bolivia, Chile, and Peru, but is rare in the wild due to hunting and loss of habitat. It is bred in captivity for its extremely dense, bluish-gray fur, valued since the days of the Inca. For its size, the Chinchilla pelt is probably the most expensive in the world, though domestic pelts are not as costly as wild ones were. The animal is also kept as a pet. Chinchillas are raised on farms e.g. in South America and the United States.
Chinchillas are found in mountain shrub and grassland areas at elevations between 3000 and 5000m. They make their dens in rock crevices. See also under
Geographical distribution.
No allergens from this animal have yet been characterised. Allergens will likely be found, as in the case of other rodents, as serum proteins, in urine, and epithelia.

Potential Cross-Reactivity


Clinical Experience

IgE mediated reactions
Chinchilla allergens may induce asthma, allergic rhinitis and allergic conjunctivitis in susceptible individuals (1,2).
One study documents positive reactions, upon nasal provocation challenge tests, to Chinchilla hair extract in 4 of 6 Chinchilla-sensitised patients (1 child and 3 adults) suffering with perennial rhinitis and/or asthma (2).
Compiled by Dr Harris Steinman,


  1. Fischer-Pap L. Home allergens: the formidable hidden enemies of health. Woman Physician. 1971;26(4):206-8
  2. Wesarg G, Bergmann KC. Sensitization to chinchillas on exposure in households. [German] Pneumologie 2000;54(9):373-4


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