Stink bugs are a trending topic in the Louisville area. Have you noticed?
The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, Halyomorpha halys (family Pentatomidae, order Hemiptera) first appeared in the United States nearly 20 years ago. Native to Asia, they are a known pest to fruit crops and soybeans. Over 20 years, its presence has been documented in nearly 40 states. As fall weather sets in, stink bugs look for ways to enter homes and hibernate through the winter. They are known for their “stink” or odor emitted as a defense mechanism. The stink is caused by the aldehydes trans-2-decenal and trans-2-octenal.
So how do these nuisances relate to your allergies?
In the October 2012 issue of Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, researchers from Penn State submitted a letter to the editor titled “The Brown Marmorated Stinkbug as a New Aeroallergen.” They documented 15 patients, most having household infestations and suffering from increased nasal and ocular allergy symptoms with exposure. (They also referenced retired Louisville allergist and one of my mentors, Hobie Pence, in their bibliography with his 2004 publication on ladybug allergies!)
Also in 2012 the Penn State Dermatology Department published a paper in Dermatitis noting irritant dermatitis in fruit crop workers after being exposed to the chemicals released by the stink bugs.
The bug was first noted in Pennsylvania so it seems fitting that Penn State is leading the pack in researching and publishing articles on the topic of stinkbug allergies.
I’m sure many more researchers will follow, given the spread and increased exposure of stink bugs. I anticipate asthmatics could be sensitive to the smell if exposed in significant doses. I expect reports of allergic contact dermatitis as well, given fragrances and other aldehydes like formaldehyde are known to cause allergic contact dermatitis.
By the way, have you made your appointment with me yet? I’m opening my solo practice in just over 2 months! Call 866-224-0779 to make an appointment. I’ll be publicizing my new office location in the next two weeks. Stay tuned!
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Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to create a doctor-patient relationship with any reader. If you need personalized medical advice, contact your primary care physician or other physician in your community.