Occupational Exposure to Animals and Risk of Zoonotic Illness in a Cohort of Farmers, Farmworkers, and Their Families in England

Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
  • Bennett, Malcolm;
  • Caul, E. Owen;
  • Chalmers, Rachel M.;
  • Coleman, Tim J.;
  • Kench, Susan M.;
  • Lloyd, Graham;
  • Meadows, Diane;
  • Morgan, Kenton L.;
  • Morgan-Capner, Peter;
  • Paiba, Giles A.;
  • Ribeiro, C. Donald;
  • Salmon, Roland L.;
  • Sillis, Margaret;
  • Softley, Pamela;
  • Thomas, Daniel Rh.


We recruited a representative population-based sample of 606 farmers, farmworkers, and their families from three areas of England. By defining and measuring animal exposure (type, frequency, and species range), we were able not only to measure the incidence and prevalence of markers of exposure to zoonotic organisms in this sentinel group, but also to determine the risk of exposure to zoonotic organisms associated with a variety of defined occupational exposures. Prevalence of antibodies to Coxiella burnetii (the cause of Q fever) (29.2%) and toxoplasma (50.2%) were high; whereas, prevalence of antibodies to Borrelia burgdorferi (the cause of Lyme disease) (0.2%), leptospira (0.2%), and brucella (0.7%) were low. The cohort was also exposed to hantavirus (seroprevalence 4.7%), orthopoxvirus (0.7%), parapoxvirus (4.5%), Bartonella spp. (2.0%), Ehrlichia chaffeensis (0.2%), human granulocytic ehrlichiosis agent (1.5%), and Echinococcus granulosis 3/202 (1.5%). Coxiella seropositivity was associated with exposure to dairy cattle (odds ratio: 1.48, 95% confidence interval: 1.03-2.12); cowpox with exposure to rats (odds ratio: 18.7, 95% confidence interval: 1.7-201.8). Self-reported clinical orf (contagious pustular dermatitis) was associated with exposure to sheep (risk ratio: 7.64, 95% confidence interval: 1.93-30.26) and rats (risk ratio 4.54, 95% confidence interval: 1.16-17.70); ringworm (dermatophytosis) with cattle (risk ratio: 1.76; 95% confidence interval: 1.17-2.64).

Full article can be found in: Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
Access this publication at: ASABE Technical Library

Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder. More