Mouse Arrest: Pest Control No Better Than Do-It-Yourself Allergen Reduction Efforts

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In a study, the findings of which were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on March 6, the researchers found that a professional pest management intervention was no better in decreasing asthma symptoms in children allergic to mice than teaching families how to reduce the level of allergens shed by mice in the home on their own.

Researchers compared professional pest management treatments

In the study, the researchers compared professional pest management treatments plus education with education alone and found no significant differences in asthma symptoms or mouse allergen exposure between the two groups. Both groups, however, saw substantial reductions in mouse allergen levels and substantial improvements in asthma. “Our findings suggest that giving families good instructions about how to reduce the mouse allergens that trigger asthma in their children may be enough to get the job done and, consequently, improve asthma symptoms,” says Elizabeth Matsui, M.D., M.H.S., professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the paper’s lead author.

Mouse allergens were present in the homes of nearly all children

Previous studies show that in many low-income urban areas, mouse allergens - proteins found primarily in the animals’ urine that trigger allergic symptoms — are present in the homes of nearly all children who have asthma, says Matsui. Because one small study suggested that a professional integrated pest management (IPM) intervention could result in large reductions in home mouse allergen levels, the researchers wanted to know whether professional IPM reduced asthma morbidity in asthmatic children who are known to be allergic to mice and also regularly exposed to mouse allergens at home.

The study included 361 children

The study, conducted in households in Baltimore, Maryland, and Boston, Massachusetts, included 361 children and adolescents 5 to 17 years old who had asthma. Children and teens were eligible for the study if they had chronic asthma and an asthma exacerbation, such as an Emergency Department visit for asthma, within the last year. The children studied also had to be allergic to mice and have been initially exposed to a bed dust mouse allergen concentration of at least 0.4 micrograms per gram or a bedroom floor dust mouse allergen concentration of at least 0.5 micrograms per gram.