Respiratory findings in livestock farmworkers

Jadranka Mustajbegovic, Eugenija Zuskin, E. Neil Schachter, Josipa Kern, Mladenka Vrcic-Keglevic, Ksenija Vitale, Zdravko Ebling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


In this cross-sectional study, the prevalence of acute and chronic respiratory symptoms and lung function were investigated in 236 (169 male and 67 female) livestock farmworkers raising domestic animals, including cattle and horses. The prevalence of acute and chronic respiratory symptoms was recorded by administering a modified version of the British Medical Research Council questionnaire on respiratory symptoms. Lung function was measured by recording the maximum expiratory flow-volume curves from which the forced vital capacity, the one-second forced expiratory volume, and the maximum expiratory flow rates at 50% and the last 25% were measured. There was a significantly higher prevalence of almost all chronic respiratory symptoms in farmers compared with controls: highest among men for chronic cough (27.2%) and highest among women for dyspnea (28.3%). Typical symptoms of occupational asthma were diagnosed in 3.6% of the male and 1.5 % of the female livestock farmers. A logistic regression analysis performed on chronic respiratory symptoms of livestock workers indicate significant effects of smoking (P < 0.001) on all symptoms except occupational asthma. A large number of male and female livestock farmworkers complained of acute work-related symptoms: highest for dry cough (52.2 %) and shortness of breath (44.9 %). Lung function data among these workers demonstrated a trend toward lower lung function in general. Multivariate analysis of lung function parameters indicate significant effects of length of employment and smoking in male and length of employment in female livestock farm-workers. The data suggest that employment in livestock farming may be associated in a dose-dependent manner with the development of acute and chronic respiratory symptoms and lung function changes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)576-584
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2001


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