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Your Environment. Your Health.

Pest Management Education May Reduce Asthma Symptoms

Elizabeth C. Matsui, M.D.
Johns Hopkins University
R01ES023447, R01ES026170

Teaching families how to reduce allergens shed by mice in their home is an effective way to reduce asthma symptoms in children and adolescents, according to NIEHS-funded researchers. In a new study, researchers compared professional pest management plus education with pest management education alone in households in Baltimore and Boston. Both groups experienced significant reductions in mice allergens and asthma symptoms, with no significant difference between the two approaches.

According to the authors, previous studies have shown that mouse proteins found primarily in urine can trigger allergic symptoms and are often present in low-income and urban neighborhoods in the United States. To determine whether pest management interventions reduce mouse allergens and asthma symptoms, researchers conducted a study of 361 children and adolescents with asthma and allergies to mice. Approximately half of the participants received professional pest management. Both groups received pest management education, written materials, and a demonstration of how to set traps and seal holes that could serve as entry points for mice.

About 40 percent of the households had a decrease in allergen levels of at least 90 percent. Both groups saw substantial improvements in asthma with reductions in mouse allergens. According to the team’s estimations, a 90 percent decrease in bedroom floor mouse allergens reduced maximum symptoms by 14 days per year.

Citation: Matsui EC, Perzanowski M, Peng RD, Wise RA, Balcer-Whaley S, Newman M, Cunningham A, Divjan A, Bollinger ME, Zhai S, Chew G, Miller RL, Phipatanakul W. 2017. Effect of an integrated pest management intervention on asthma symptoms among mouse-sensitized children and adolescents with asthma: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA 317(10):1027–1036.