Do you get red, itchy eyes or even have trouble breathing around cats? According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), 60 million Americans have allergies or asthma. As many as 30 percent of those may have an aversion to pets.
Now, researchers in the UK say they may have found a cure for cat allergies that could be on the market within five years. A group at Cambridge University discovered the trigger that can cause allergic reactions, believed to be a protein in cat dander, which combines with a chemical in humans to create the reaction.
The only treatment currently available for symptoms, which can also include rashes and dangerous asthma attacks, is to take antihistamines or to have a number of injections to build up a tolerance to the allergen.
However, scientists believe a pill or inhaler could be used to treat the problem.
“When cats lick themselves they spread saliva, hormones and skin cells onto their coat,” says the study’s lead author Dr. Clare Bryant. “When the hair falls out, it is proteins in this dandruff stuck on their fur that people are allergic to. How cat dander causes such a severe allergic reaction in some people has long been a mystery.”
The research also suggests that a similar treatment may be used to treat dog allergies.