Cockroach allergy is an important health problem that can lead to asthma, rhinitis or both. In the United States the main species of cockroach that causes allergy is the German cockroach, Blatella germanica. Exposure and sensitization to cockroach allergens are 2 factors that causes high morbidity among inner-city children with asthma. There seems to be multiple cockroach allergens that can trigger symptoms. Bla g 2 is the major cockroach allergen, and new ones have emerged over the last 10 years.
A recent study published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology titled “Cockroach allergen component analysis of children with or without asthma and rhinitis in an inner-city birth cohort”, sought to perform a cockroach allergen component analysis to determine the allergens and antibody levels and patterns of sensitization associated with asthma and rhinitis. Major findings in this study showed:
- Variable patterns of sensitization were found in subjects with or without asthma and rhinitis.
- IgE antibody levels to cockroach allergens and extract but not IgG or IgG4, differed between groups.
- Recognition of more cockroach allergens with greater allergen-specific IgE levels were associated with disease.
Although cockroach allergy is closely associated with respiratory disease, the specific features of cockroach sensitization that are associated with disease are unknown. An allergy doctor can test for cockroach allergy, the major ones are American and German cockroach. But in terms of allergy shots or allergy immunotherapy, the extracts are not standardized and have high variability in allergen content, therefore its efficacy may be questionable. What is known based on this study is that cockroach allergy patients with asthma and rhinitis are sensitized at greater levels than patients without disease. In terms of therapy, more studies need to be done to determine whether or not immunotherapy is worthwhile or efficacious.