Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Agricultural Workers At Increased Risk For Infection With Animal Flu Viruses

Date:
November 29, 2005
Source:
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Summary:
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 NIAID.

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.

Related Articles


"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.

###

NIAID is a component of the National Institutes of Health, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIAID supports basic and applied research to prevent, diagnose and treat infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, influenza, tuberculosis, malaria and illness from potential agents of bioterrorism. NIAID also supports research on transplantation and immune-related illnesses, including autoimmune disorders, asthma and allergies.

Reference: KP Myers et al. Are swine workers in the United States at increased risk of infection with zoonotic influenza virus? Clinical Infectious Diseases. Published online November 22, 2005. Appearing in the January 1, 2006 print edition.

News releases, fact sheets and other NIAID-related materials are available on the NIAID Web site at http://www.niaid.nih.gov.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "Agricultural Workers At Increased Risk For Infection With Animal Flu Viruses." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 November 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051128195128.htm>.
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. (2005, November 29). Agricultural Workers At Increased Risk For Infection With Animal Flu Viruses. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051128195128.htm
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "Agricultural Workers At Increased Risk For Infection With Animal Flu Viruses." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051128195128.htm (accessed November 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, November 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

UN Says It Will Scale Up Its Ebola Response

UN Says It Will Scale Up Its Ebola Response

AFP (Nov. 20, 2014) UN Resident Coordinator David McLachlan-Karr and WHO representative in the country Daniel Kertesz updated the media on the UN Ebola response on Wednesday. Duration: 00:51 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Takata Offers "sincerest Condolences" To Victims of Malfunctioning Airbag

Takata Offers "sincerest Condolences" To Victims of Malfunctioning Airbag

Reuters - US Online Video (Nov. 20, 2014) U.S. Congress hears from a victim and company officials as it holds a hearing on the safety of Takata airbags after reports of injuries. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obesity Costs Almost As Much As War And Terrorism

Obesity Costs Almost As Much As War And Terrorism

Newsy (Nov. 20, 2014) The newest estimate of the cost of obesity is pretty jarring — $2 trillion. But how did researchers get to that number? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Calling All Men: Here's Your Chance to Experience Labor Pains

Calling All Men: Here's Your Chance to Experience Labor Pains

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 20, 2014) Chinese hospital offers men a chance to experience the pain of child birth via electric shocks. Sharon Reich reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins