Occupational Exposure to Aspergillus by Swine and Poultry Farm Workers in Portugal

a Nacional Institute of Health Dr. Ricardo Jorge , URSZ, Infectious Diseases Department , Lisbon , Portugal.
Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health Part A (Impact Factor: 1.83). 10/2012; 75(22-23):1381-91. DOI: 10.1080/15287394.2012.721170
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Aspergillus is among a growing list of allergens that aggravate asthmatic responses. Significant pulmonary pathology is associated with Aspergillus-induced allergic and asthmatic lung disease. Environments with high levels of exposure to fungi are found in animal production facilities such as for swine and poultry, and farmers working with these are at increased risk for occupational respiratory diseases. Seven Portuguese poultry and seven swine farms were analyzed in order to estimate the prevalence, amount, and distribution of Aspergillus species, as well as to determine the presence of clinical symptoms associated with asthma and other allergy diseases in these highly contaminated settings. From the collected fungal isolates (699), an average incidence of 22% Aspergillus was detected in poultry farms, while the prevalence at swine farms was 14%. The most frequently isolated Aspergillus species were A. versicolor, A. flavus, and A. fumigatus. In poultry farms, A. flavus presented the highest level of airborne spores (>2000 CFU/m(3)), whereas in swine farms the highest was A. versicolor, with an incidence fourfold greater higher than the other mentioned species. Eighty workers in these settings were analyzed, ranging in age from 17 to 93 yr. The potentially hazardous exposure of poultry workers to mold allergens using sensitization markers was evaluated. Although no significant positive association was found between fungal contamination and sensitization to fungal antigens, a high incidence of respiratory symptoms in professionals without asthma was observed, namely, wheezing associated with dyspnea (23.8%) and dyspnea after strenuous activities (12.3%), suggesting underdiagnosed respiratory disturbances. Further, 32.5% of all exposed workers noted an improvement of respiratory ability during resting and holidays. From all the analyzed workers, seven were previously diagnosed with asthma and four reported the first attack after the age of 40 yr, which may be associated with their occupational exposure. Some of the fungi, namely, the Aspergillus species detected in this study, are known to induce hypersensitivity reactions in humans. This study confirmed the presence and distribution of Aspergillus in Portuguese poultry and swine farms, suggesting a possible occupational health problem and raising the need for preventive and protective measures to apply to avoid exposure in both occupational settings.


Available from: Carla Viegas, May 28, 2015
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    ABSTRACT: Clinical and environmental samples from Portugal were screened for the presence of Aspergillus and the distributions of the species complexes were determined in order to understand how their distributions differ based on their source. Fifty-seven Aspergillus isolates from clinical samples were collected from 10 health institutions. Six species complexes were detected by internal transcribed spacer sequencing; Fumigati, Flavi, and Nigri were found most frequently (50.9%, 21.0%, and 15.8%, respectively). β-tubulin and calmodulin sequencing resulted in seven cryptic species (A. awamorii, A. brasiliensis, A. fructus, A. lentulus, A. sydowii, A. tubingensis, Emericella echinulata) being identified among the 57 isolates. Thirty-nine isolates of Aspergillus were recovered from beach sand and poultry farms, 31 from swine farms, and 80 from hospital environments, for a total 189 isolates. Eleven species complexes were found in these 189 isolates, and those belonging to the Versicolores species complex were found most frequently (23.8%). There was a significant association between the different environmental sources and distribution of the species complexes; the hospital environment had greater variability of species complexes than other environmental locations. A high prevalence of cryptic species within the Circumdati complex was detected in several environments; from the isolates analyzed, at least four cryptic species were identified, most of them growing at 37ºC. Because Aspergillus species complexes have different susceptibilities to antifungals, knowing the species-complex epidemiology for each setting, as well as the identification of cryptic species among the collected clinical isolates, is important. This may allow preventive and corrective measures to be taken, which may result in decreased exposure to those organisms and a better prognosis. Key words: Aspergillus, cryptic species, molecular epidemiology, clinical environment PDF:
    Medical Mycology 05/2014; DOI:10.1093/mmy/myu006 · 2.26 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: High loads of fungi have been reported in different types of waste management plants. This study intends to assess fungal contamination in one waste-sorting plant before and after cleaning procedures in order to analyze their effectiveness. Air samples of 50 L were collected through an impaction method, while surface samples, taken at the same time, were collected by the swabbing method and subject to further macro- and microscopic observations. In addition, we collected air samples of 250 L using the impinger Coriolis μ air sampler (Bertin Technologies) at 300 L/min airflow rate in order to perform real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR) amplification of genes from specific fungal species, namely Aspergillus fumigatus and Aspergillus flavus complexes, as well as Stachybotrys chartarum species. Fungal quantification in the air ranged from 180 to 5,280 CFU m(-3) before cleaning and from 220 to 2,460 CFU m(-3) after cleaning procedures. Surfaces presented results that ranged from 29 × 10(4) to 109 × 10(4) CFU m(-2) before cleaning and from 11 × 10(4) to 89 × 10(4) CFU m(-2) after cleaning. Statistically significant differences regarding fungal load were not detected between before and after cleaning procedures. Toxigenic strains from A. flavus complex and S. chartarum were not detected by qPCR. Conversely, the A. fumigatus species was successfully detected by qPCR and interestingly it was amplified in two samples where no detection by conventional methods was observed. Overall, these results reveal the inefficacy of the cleaning procedures and that it is important to determine fungal burden in order to carry out risk assessment.
    Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 04/2015; 187(4):4412. DOI:10.1007/s10661-015-4412-y · 1.68 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Purpose: Samples from different environmental sources were screened for the presence of Aspergillus, and the distribution of the different species-complexes was determined in order to understand differences among that distribution in the several environmental sources and which of these species complexes are present in specific environmental settings. Methods: Four distinct environments (beaches, poultries, swineries and hospital) were studied and analyzed for which Aspergillus complexes were present in each setting. After plate incubation and colony isolation, morphological identification was done using macro- and microscopic characteristics. The universal fungal primers ITS1 and ITS4 were used to amplify DNA from all Aspergillus isolates, which was sequenced for identification to species complex level. SPSS v15.0 for Windows was used to perform the statistical analysis. Results:Thirty-nine isolates of Aspergillus were recovered from both the sand beach and poultries, 31 isolates from swineries, and 80 isolates from hospital environments, for a total 189 isolates. Eleven species complexes were found total. Isolates belonging to the Aspergillus Versicolores species-complex were the most frequently found (23.8%), followed by Flavi (18.0%), Fumigati (15.3%) and Nigri (13.2%) complexes. A significant association was found between the different environmental sources and the distribution of the several species-complexes (p<0.001); the hospital environment had a greater variability of species-complexes than other environmental locations (10 in hospital environment, against nine in swine, eight in poultries and seven in sand beach). Isolates belonging to Nidulantes complex were detected only in the hospital environment, whereas the other complexes were identified in more than one setting. Conclusion: Because different Aspergillus complexes have different susceptibilities to antifungal drugs, and different abilities in producing mycotoxins, knowledge of the species-complex epidemiology for each setting may allow preventive or corrective measures to be taken toward decreasing professional workers or patient exposure to those agents.
    Advances Agaisnt Aspergilosis 2014, Madrid - Spain; 02/2014