Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Agricultural workers at increased risk for infection with animal flu viruses

29.11.2005


Findings may have implications for pandemic flu planning



Farmers, veterinarians and meat processors who routinely come into contact with pigs in their jobs have a markedly increased risk of infection with flu viruses that infect pigs, according to a study funded in part by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). While the findings are not entirely unexpected, the strikingly higher risk of infection coupled with the fact that pigs can be infected by swine viruses, bird (avian) viruses as well as human flu viruses--thereby acting as a virtual virus "mixing bowl," especially on farms where pigs, chickens and people coexist--is a potential public health concern, the study authors assert. The paper appears online this week in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

"Pigs play a role in transmitting influenza virus to humans," says NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. "The worry is that if a pig were to become simultaneously infected with both a human and an avian influenza virus, genes from these viruses could reassemble into a new virus that could be transmitted to and cause disease in people."


The study results strongly suggest that occupational exposure to pigs significantly increases the risk of developing swine influenza infection. Agricultural workers should, therefore, be considered in developing flu pandemic surveillance plans and antiviral and immunization strategies, according to the study’s co-investigator, Gregory C. Gray, M.D., director of the University of Iowa Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases.

"If migratory birds introduce the H5N1 bird flu virus into swine or poultry populations in this country, agricultural workers may be at a much greater risk of developing a variant H5N1 and passing it along to non-agricultural workers," Gray says. "Not protecting agricultural workers could amplify influenza transmission among humans and domestic animals during a pandemic and cause considerable damage to the swine and poultry industries, as well as the U.S. economy." While swine in other countries have been infected by the H5N1 virus, to date, the virus has not become readily transmissible between swine.

Swine influenza infections generally produce mild or no symptoms in both pigs and humans. However, exposure to swine flu virus at a 1988 Wisconsin county fair resulted in serious illness for 50 swine exhibitors and three of their family members; one previously healthy woman who became infected died.

The U.S. swine industry, which employs about 575,000 people, has shifted during the past 60 years from primarily small herds located on family farms to large herds maintained in expansive but confined agricultural facilities. Crowded conditions coupled with the constant introduction of young pigs to existing herds have made swine flu infections among pigs a year-round occurrence rather than the seasonal event they once were. As a result, there is a constant opportunity for people who are occupationally exposed to pigs to become infected with influenza viruses and, conversely, a continual opportunity for human flu viruses to mix with swine or bird flu viruses.

To determine the prevalence of swine influenza infection among swine-exposed employees, the researchers, led by Dr. Gray and graduate student Kendall P. Myers, examined serum samples taken from four adult populations in Iowa between 2002 and 2004. Three populations were occupational groups exposed to pigs: 111 farmers, 97 meat processing workers and 65 veterinarians. The fourth control group included 79 volunteers from the University of Iowa with no occupational pig exposure.

The researchers tested the serum samples for antibodies to several then-current swine and human influenza A viruses. The results showed that all three occupational study groups had markedly elevated antibodies to swine flu viruses compared with the control group. Farmers had the strongest indication of exposure to swine flu viruses, as much as 35 times higher than the control group. Similarly, comparable values were as much as 18 times higher for veterinarians and as much as 7 times higher for meat processors than the control group. In contrast, exposure to human flu virus in the occupational groups was not significantly different than that of the control group.

To date, the H5N1 avian virus has not appeared in the United States in any animal population or in humans.

Kathy Stover | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.niaid.nih.gov

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht New study points the way to therapy for rare cancer that targets the young
22.11.2017 | Rockefeller University

nachricht Penn study identifies new malaria parasites in wild bonobos
21.11.2017 | University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Frictional Heat Powers Hydrothermal Activity on Enceladus

Computer simulation shows how the icy moon heats water in a porous rock core

Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Underwater acoustic localization of marine mammals and vehicles

23.11.2017 | Information Technology

Enhancing the quantum sensing capabilities of diamond

23.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Meadows beat out shrubs when it comes to storing carbon

23.11.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>