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Ann Agric Environ Med 1998, 5, 87-92

AIRBORNE CONTAMINANTS AND FARMERS HEALTH IN SWINE FARMS WITH
HIGH AND LOW PREVALENCE OF RESPIRATORY DISEASES IN PIGS

Rika Jolie1, Lennart Bäckström1, Paul Gunderson2

1School of Veterinary Medicine, Dept. of Medical Sciences, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA
2National Farm Medicine Center, Marshfield, WI, USA

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Jolie R, Bäckström L, Gunderson P: Airborne contaminants and farmers health in swine farms with high and low prevalence of respiratory diseases in pigs. Ann Agric Environ Med 1998, 5, 87-92.

Abstract: The main purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between prevalence of respiratory disease in swine and respiratory health of swine farmers. Fourteen farms were selected based on clinical history and slaughtercheck evidence of respiratory problems in pigs. The farms were divided into two groups with either high (n = 7) or low (n = 7) prevalence of respiratory disease in pigs. Airborne dust, endotoxin and peptidoglycan were measured once in farrowing, gestation, nursery and finishing of each farm. Respiratory health of farmers in participating farms was evaluated by questionnaire and pulmonary function test. A mean of 71% of the pigs in high prevalence farms had pneumonic lesions at slaughter, compared with 7% in low prevalence farms. No significant relationship was found between prevalence of respiratory disease in pigs and airborne dust, endotoxin or peptidoglycan. More farmers in high prevalence farms reported chest tightness (p = 0.038). The percentage predicted FEF25%-75% was lower (p = 0.046) in farmers working in high prevalence farms. Significant differences disappeared after adjusting for smoking status. Our study suggests that farmers working on farms with a high prevalence for respiratory disease in pigs may have more respiratory problems than farmers working in farms with low prevalence of such diseases.

Address for correspondence: Rika Jolie, DVM, MSc, University of Wisconsin, School of Veterinary Medicine, 2015 Linden Drive West, Madison, WI 53706, USA. E-mail: jolier@svm.vetmed.wisc.edu

Key words: respiratory disease, swine, peptidoglycan, endotoxin, dust, pulmonary function, farmers health.