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Environmental Risk Factors Associated with Leptospirosis among Butchers and Their Associates in Jamaica

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Author(s): PD Brown | M McKenzie | M Pinnock | D McGrowder

Journal: International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
ISSN 2008-6520

Volume: 2;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 47;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Keywords: Leptospirosis | Abattoirs | Risk factors | Occupations | Weil disease | Forestry | Zoonoses

ABSTRACT
Background: Leptospirosis, a spirochetal zoonosis, is considered an occupational disease of persons engaged in agriculture, sewage works, forestry, and butchery.Objective: To determine the environmental sources and the knowledge, attitude and practices for leptospirosis among butchers and slaughterhouse workers, as well as the seroprevalence of leptospirosis among cattle and pigs presented for slaughter.Methods: Using an interviewer administered questionnaire, all 110 butchers and other slaughterhouse workers in the parishes of Kingston and St. Andrew, Jamaica were surveyed. In addition, 179 blood samples from animals presented for slaughter were tested for anti-Leptospira antibodies using the microscopic agglutination test (MAT).Results: Analyses indicated that people with the studied occupations are at risk for developing leptospirosis due to several environmental risk factors that exist in slaughterhouses. Among the risk factors, limited knowledge of the disease and its transmission, lower educational level attained, younger age and unhealthy behaviors (e.g., hand washing and improper or lack of use of personal protective gears), presence of stray dogs and rodents, and inadequate maintenance of physical plants, were found to be important. Of the total number of animal samples tested, 20 (11%) were positive. Canicola and Hardjo (among cattle) and Bratislava (among pigs) were the major seroreactors.Conclusion: Butchers and slaughterhouse workers engaged in animal handling and slaughtering could be frequently exposed to leptospirosis, and hence control strategies targeting at these populations should be implemented.
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