Allergies to horses have been reported for nearly 100 years, with most people experiencing respiratory symptoms such as allergic rhinitis and asthma as a result. In fact, 50% of people with exposure to horse barns report respiratory symptoms such as wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath. Given the ability of horse dander to cause allergy symptoms, however, it would not be surprising to see people experience urticaria, angioedema, and even anaphylaxis as a result of exposure to horses.
Surprisingly, certain people with dog and cat allergies may be predisposed to having horse allergies. A blood protein called albumin, a common allergen in animals, is cross-reactive between horses, dogs and cats. Therefore, some people with dog or cat allergy may experience allergy symptoms with exposure to horses.
Treatment of horse allergy is based on the symptoms that a person is experiencing, and is the same as the treatment of allergies caused by other allergic triggers. Allergy shots, or immunotherapy, to horses has been shown to be safe and effective for the treatment of horse allergies, and offers the only potential cure.
Learn more about allergies to less common pets.
Mazan MR, Svatek J, Maranda L, et al. Questionnaire Assessment of Airway Symptoms in Equine Barn Personnel. Occup Med. 2009;59:220-5.
Weber RW. Horse Dander. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2010;105:A12.
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