Dr. Todd Levin of the Chattanooga Allergy Clinic was recently published in the November issue of the prestigious Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. His article, “Cross-reactivity between cockroach and ladybug using the radioallergosorbent test,” studied the incidence of ladybug allergy in the general population and found it to be approximately ten percent.
Cockroaches and ladybugs, both common indoor allergens, were determined to be partially cross-reactive, meaning that the proteins that cause allergy in each insect are similar in structure. Additionally, people with infestations of either may suffer from similar symptoms, including increased asthma symptoms, congestion, runny nose, and itching involving both the eyes and nose. Locally, ladybugs may cause seasonal symptoms between September and March when they are typically searching for warm areas in which to nest.
As with any type of allergy, degrees of symptoms can be variable. Some people may develop symptoms without actually being allergic to ladybugs; their odor alone can act as a powerful irritant.
While people with cockroach allergies have historically received immunotherapy, or allergy shots, to help lessen their sensitivity, a similar ladybug therapy is not currently available. Theoretically, however, cockroach immunotherapy could help ladybug allergy.
Dr. Levin is optimistic that this study will not only increase awareness of ladybug allergy, but also lead to the development of better testing modalities, and ultimately effective treatment for those patients who suffer seasonal symptoms.
For more information, please contact Dr. Todd Levin at Chattanooga Allergy Clinic, 423-899-0431.