PITTSBURGH (CBS) — Chances are, if you have seasonal allergies you’re also allergic to cats.
“About 30 percent of these patients will have a ‘cat positive’ test if you test them,” says University of Chicago ear, nose and throat surgeon Dr. Fuad Baroody.
Cat dander is what causes the itchy eyes and runny noses.
“It’s a whiff of exposure that makes you miserable for a good 24 hours after exposure,” Dr. Baroody says.
Matthew Johnson has suffered with cat allergies for 20 years.
“I remember hitting about age 6 and my face would start to puff up,” he says. “It’s all just hives and tearing. It gets pretty uncomfortable after a good while.”
Lots of his friends have felines.
Now, he’s part of a study at the University of Chicago, testing a new substance added to cat allergy shots. The new drug attacks something called TSLP, which makes allergic reactions worse.
“The hope is with this drug that more people will be protected for long periods of time after stopping therapy, which would be amazing,” Dr. Baroody says.
It could also reduce side effects, allowing more people to finish their allergy shot treatment in one year instead of three years.
Johnson has been getting shots for five months now. Although he doesn’t know if he’s getting the real drug, he thinks his allergic symptoms are less severe.
“I could be on double placebo and just be convincing myself, but hopefully, it’s actually a sign that this stuff’s working,” Johnson says.
The Catnip study runs for two years. Northwestern is also participating.
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