Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from AACI and BioMed Central.

This article is part of the supplement: Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology Annual Scientific Meeting 2010

Open Access Open Badges Poster presentation

Prevalence of allergic sensitization to Russian thistle in Kingston and the South-eastern Ontario catchment area; a retrospective chart review

Nina Lakhani1* and Anne K Ellis12

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medicine, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, Canada

2 Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, Canada

For all author emails, please log on.

Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology 2010, 6(Suppl 2):P18  doi:10.1186/1710-1492-6-S2-P18

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published:4 November 2010

© 2010 Lakhani and Ellis; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.


Russian thistle has only recently been identified as a potentially clinically important allergen. In the third phase of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys conducted in the USA (1988 to1994) over 15% of tested individuals had positive skin-test responses to this extract. The rate of skin test positivity to Russian thistle in Canada is unknown.


To determine the prevalence of skin test positivity to Russian Thistle in patients from Kingston and the Southeastern Ontario catchment area, and the possible clinical significance of the same.


A retrospective chart review was performed to document the rate of sensitization amongst tested patients to Russian thistle extract (Hollister-Steir). Only patients with appropriate histamine responses were included. We collected demographic data in addition to the presence/absence of relevant clinical symptoms.


Of 410 charts reviewed, 170 underwent skin testing to Russian thistle. Of these, 17(10%) were positive. Of the test-positive cohort, 47% (8/17) had symptoms that correlated seasonally with the predominant Russian thistle pollen season (August-October). The mean age of skin-test positive individuals was 35.2 years. 82% and 52.9% of these had concomitant positive skin tests to ragweed and birch, respectively, allergens with known cross-reactivity.


This preliminary evaluation suggests that the prevalence of skin test positivity to Russian thistle in the studied area is approximately 10%, with about half of these individuals reporting correlative seasonal symptoms. Including Russian thistle in routine skin testing panel may better establish the clinical significance of this environmental allergen.

This study was approved by the Queen’s University Health Sciences and Affiliated Teaching Hospitals Research Ethics Board, with no financial interest or funding provided.