BACKGROUND: Rapid urbanization combined with rural migration to urban areas in southern Vietnam could be risk factors for allergen sensitization, contributing to chronic respiratory diseases (CRD). We aimed to evaluate the prevalence of mite sensitization and its relation to house dust characteristics among rural and urban native and migrating populations with CRD.
METHODS: Rural (n = 19) and urban (n = 46) dwellings were defined on the basis of a home typology. Controls were western Belgian houses (n = 14). Besides the house characteristics, both endotoxin and mite allergens were measured in the settled dusts. The sensitization to mite allergens was defined by positive skin prick test (SPT) and concentration of specific IgE (sIgE)≥ 0.7 U/mL. The prevalence of mite sensitization was evaluated among 610 patients with CRD and compared according to both their home types and places of birth and residences.
RESULTS: The concentration of endotoxin (but not mite allergen) was higher in rural compared to urban dusts (440 (95%CI: 314-566) versus 170 (95%CI: 115-226) EU/mg; p < 0.0001). The prevalence of positive sIgE to Der p1 and Der p2 was significantly lower in rural (9% and 5%) compared to urban (15% and 9%) population, consistent with the positive SPT to mite (14% and 21%, respectively). Among the urban migrants, the risk of mite sensitization (SPT) was higher compared to the rural natives (OR: 1.79 (1.02-3.15), p < 0.05) and not different to the urban ones (OR: 1.35 (0.82-2.23) p NS).
CONCLUSION: In Vietnam, associated with higher endotoxin (but not allergen) dust concentrations, the risk of mite sensitization was lower in rural compared to the native urban population, but this protective effect could disappear among rural to urban migrants.