Cat Allergen At Primary School

The cat allergen Fel D1 is found at primary schools. I find this upsetting and a bit disturbing. The cat allergen is a barrier to a successful relationship between human and cat. We don’t need barriers.

To briefly recap, the Fel D1 cat allergen is found in cat saliva, cat hair and dander. Dander is very small particles of dry cat skin – a sort of dust about one-millionth of a metre in size. Fel D1 stands for felis domesticus 1 (the first type discovered). It is produced and carried to the skin and fur of the cat through saliva, sebaceous glands, basal squamous epithelial cells (part of the skin) and anal glands. Male cats produce more than females – it is hormone linked. Sebaceous glands are in the skin producing an oily//waxy material. An “allergen” is a substance that causes an allergic reaction.

Cat Allergen Free School

Cat Allergen Free School. Note: this is a bit of fun. It is photoshopped. Original photo of school by Allie_Caulfield.

The sad fact of the matter is that the cat allergen can collect as a reservoir in people’s hair – particularly the longer hair of women it seems. It is also on clothes. Wool and polyester garments contain more Fel d 1 than cotton clothing.

Fel D1 is carried to primary school by students, research in New Zealand has discovered. The domestic cat is popular in New Zealand. About half the households have a cat. The research was conducted as an investigation into the high levels of major allergic diseases such as asthma and rhinitis (runny, stuffy nose) and whether the cat allergen was a trigger or partial cause.

It was discovered that the allergen was found at primary school at higher levels where there was a carpet compared to uncarpeted floors.  Girls clothing carried more cat allergen than boys clothing (‘significantly higher levels of allergen”).

The study concluded that carrying the cat allergen into school on clothing was a major source of the allergen at school. Schools should have uncarpeted floors.

The summary that I saw did not tell us how significant the cat allergen was in triggering allergies.  However, it does show us that the cat allergen can get into a lot of places. It is certainly present throughout the home where there are cats. I suppose it is in the car too.

Original research article (summary).

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