Occupational protein contact dermatitis from spices in a butcher: A new presentation of the mugwort-spice syndrome

Mark David Anliker, Siegfried Borelli, Brunello Wüthrich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Protein contact dermatitis to meat is well known in butchers; spices are another source of potential contact allergy and usually are not recognized. We present a first case of contact-dermatitis to spice mix in a 39-year-old-butcher. The patient underwent skin prick testing (SPT) with standard allergens (ALK) and different meat and spice extracts (Stallergènes), scratch-patch testing with spice mix containing glutamate, paprika and other spices. Specific serum-IgE was measured with CAP-FEIA. SPT only showed an immediate-type sensitization to mugwort (+ +), as well as different spices (paprika +, curry +, cumin +) and camomile (+ + +). Scratch-patch tests were negative for different meat, but strongly positive for spice mix (+ + +) after 30 min (wheal and flare) and (+ +) after 48 h (infiltration and vesiculation). Two healthy controls were tested negative for spice mix used from that patient (scratch-patch). Specific IgE was slightly elevated for paprika 0.47 kU/L (CAP class 1), anise 0.43 kU/L, curry 0.36 kU/L and mugwort 3.83 kU/L. Sx1 atopy-multiscreen was 3.8 kU/L due to a sensitization to mugwort alone. The tests performed demonstrate an IgE-mediated contact allergy to spices but also a delayed type allergy to spice mix as a manifestation of the mugwort-spice syndrome in this individual. When testing for occupational dermatitis in butchers, protein contact allergy to spices must also be taken into consideration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-74
Number of pages3
JournalContact Dermatitis
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Contact allergy
  • Contact dermatitis
  • Occupational
  • Protein
  • Spices


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