Work-related allergic skin symptoms among cattle and swine breeders

Radoslaw Spiewak, Czeslawa Skorska, Jacek Dutkiewicz

Institute of Agricultural Medicine, Lublin, Poland.

Source: Spiewak R, Skorska C, Dutkiewicz J. Work-related allergic skin symptoms among cattle and swine breeders. Allergy 2000; 55 (Suppl 63): 155.

Objectives: To assess the prevalence of skin symptoms among cattle and swine breeders exposed to organic dust of plant origin.

Material and methods: In 1998 and 1999, a survey on occupational diseases among farmers in Eastern Poland was carried out. As a part of the survey, 49 farmers were studied using a standardised questionnaire and clinical examination by a dermatologist. The farmers were divided into 2 groups: 27 cattle breeders and 22 swine breeders. They were employed in typical Polish small to middle-size family farms.

Results: Among 49 farmers, 10 reported skin symptoms related to work. These ranged from pruritus without visible skin changes to pronounced eczema. The most common provoking factor was grain dust, which was indicated by 9 farmers.

Group Cattle breeders Swine breeders
Number of farmers 27 (15 M, 12 F) 22 (12 M, 10 F)
Mean age (range) 39 (17-66) years 41 (14-68) years
Time of employment 24.5 (1-59) years 28 (4-58) years
Cases with skin symptoms 3 (11.1%) 7 (31.8%)
Causative factor* grain dust (3 cases)
fresh hay (1 case)
potatoes (1 case)
string beans (1 case)
cucumber leaves (1 case)
grain dust (6 cases)
straw dust (2 cases)
swine hairs (1 case)
cow dander (1 case)
manure (1 case)
dry hay (1 case)
*note that in one person more than 1 causative factor could be identified, therefore the number of causative factors is greater that the number of cases.

Conclusion: Organic material present in farmers' working environment has strong allergising or irritating properties and is capable of provoking skin symptoms in every fifth farmer.

For personal use only. © Radoslaw Spiewak.

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