Are Iowa's Meat Processing Workers at Increased Risk of Zoonotic Infections?

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Project Period: 
Project Investigator(s): 
K Myers and G Gray, Department of Epidemiology, The University of Iowa

Meat processing workers are often exposed to various avian, swine, and bovine tissues. It is hypothesized that due to these exposures meat processing workers may have elevated risks for acquiring a number of zoonotic infections. This pilot investigation will focus upon three organisms: West Nile virus, influenza A virus, and avian pneumovirus. The study design involves the collaboration of two meat (pork, turkey, chicken, and beef) processing plants in Iowa. One hundred meat processing employees from each site along with their spouses (n~400 subjects) will be enrolled. Serum would be studied for evidence of infection with the three viral agents of interest. Seroprevalence data from the workers at the two plants will be compared with their spouses to discern evidence of occupational risk. This pilot study may shed significant light upon previously unexamined environmental health risks for meat processing workers in Iowa and throughout the United States.


Meyers K, Olsen C, Setterquist S, Capuano A, Donham K, Thacker E, Merchant J, Gray G; Are swine workers in the United States at increased risk of infection with zoonotic influenza virus? ; Clin Infect Dis. 2006; 42(1):14-20