An article in the New England Journal of Medicine is throwing a scare into allergists who treat patients with latex allergy.

The article recounts the experience of a female dentist who was allergic to latex. When she wore latex gloves, she developed a rash and trouble breathing. Then she started having trouble in restaurants.

The dentist would eat a restaurant selection that hadn't caused her trouble at home and unexpectedly develop a severe allergic reaction.

Was it the food or the latex gloves the food handler wore? Researchers determined it was the gloves.

Researchers gave the dentist untouched orange juice and orange juice stirred by a latex-gloved finger. She developed a serious allergic reaction including trouble breathing from the juice stirred by the single latex-clad finger.

Conclusion: A lot of unsuspecting people may have a reaction to a tiny amount of latex in a setting that wouldn't normally provide any clues that danger was lurking.

The problem is pretty easy to diagnose: if you touch an eraser, a bicycle handle or a latex glove and have an allergic reaction or if you react positively to a skin or blood test, you're at risk of a serious reaction.

Patient and doctor need to carefully consider the problem in settings that you wouldn't normally suspect.