Surveillance for Zoonotic Diseases in Agricultural Workers in Minnesota

Project Description

Dates: 2012 – current

Diseases shared by humans and animals are more likely to affect agricultural workers and their families than other Minnesotans. These types of diseases are called zoonoses and some examples are E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, and Cryptosporidium. Currently, information is lacking on exactly how frequent these infections are among agricultural workers, what the specific risk factors are for becoming ill from a zoonoses, and what preventive measures may be most effective.

Surveillance for Zoonotic DiseasesThe primary role of the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) in the Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center is to use the work MDH is already doing to keep track of infectious diseases in Minnesota to better describe the frequency of zoonoses in agricultural workers, their families, and others exposed to agricultural settings in Minnesota. The long term objective of the MDH project is to reduce the frequency of zoonoses among agricultural workers, their families, and others exposed to animal agriculture settings.

Our project aims to work on the following things:

  1. Identify the most important zoonotic diseases found in agricultural populations in Minnesota;
  2. Starting in 2012, determine how frequently agricultural workers are getting sick with these diseases every year;
  3. Study any new diseases that may be related to agriculture settings;
  4. Find out what specific risk factors are leading to agricultural workers and their families becoming sick; and
  5. Develop and put in place programs to prevent workers, their families, and visitors from becoming sick with zoonotic diseases.
2015 Project Update

Minnesota Illness Cases with Animal Agriculture ExposureAgriculture is a large part of Minnesota’s economy, supporting more than 340,000 people through food animal production and processing support services. Zoonotic diseases (diseases that can be passed between animals and people) are a risk to agricultural workers, their families, and others exposed to food animals. However, little information is available describing specific risk factors on the farm for developing a zoonotic disease and how frequently agricultural workers and their families get sick from food animals. The UMASH project at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) focuses on describing the size of this problem in agricultural populations, which can be used to develop more effective prevention measures to minimize the occurrence of zoonotic diseases.

Diarrheal illnesses such as Cryptosporidium, E. coli O157:H7, Campylobacter, Salmonella are reportable to MDH, and all ill people are interviewed with a routine questionnaire that includes questions about agricultural exposures (living, working, or visiting a farm, petting zoo, fair, or other venue with animals). Since January 2012, patients with agricultural exposure have been re-interviewed with a more detailed questionnaire about the types of activities they were doing with the animals. Based on these interviews, 51% of patients with a Cryptosporidium parvum infection, 25% of patients with an E. coli O157:H7 infection, 26% of patients with a Campylobacter infection, and 13% of patients with a Salmonella infection had a food animal exposure in the week before their illness. For all but Salmonella, the percentages of ill people with food animal contact are much higher than previously reported estimates; (Cryptosporidium 16%, E. coli O157:H7 6%, Campylobacter 17%, and Salmonella 11%). MDH offers educational materials to these patients, and 57% of them were interested in receiving the materials.

UMASH Zoonotic Diseases ProjectIn addition to collecting data on recent zoonotic infections, MDH has offered four, free full-day workshops to people associated with county fairs and two free evening workshops to people with agritourism operations (apple orchards, pumpkin patches, corn mazes, etc.) on how to have safe human-animal interactions. These workshops have been well-attended and well-received, and we plan on continuing them on a yearly basis.

This past summer we had two outbreaks of E. coli O157 associated with different county fairs. MDH has been working closely with the fair board presidents and will be providing onsite consultations for the fairs to discuss measures that can be implemented for next fair season in order to prevent future outbreaks from happening.


 
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Diseases from animals are more likely to affect agricultural workers and their families than other Minnesotans.

Project Personnel

PROJECT PERSONNEL

CO-INVESTIGATORS

Photo of Richard N. Danila PhD

Richard N. Danila PhD

Assistant State Epidemiologist Minnesota Department of Health
Phone: 612-201-5116
Photo of Joni M. Scheftel DVM, MPH, DACVPM

Joni M. Scheftel DVM, MPH, DACVPM

State Public Health Veterinarian Minnesota Department of Health
Phone: 651-201-5107

COORDINATOR

Project Resources

Publications and Presentations

  • Fowler H, Whitten T, Smith K, Griffith J, Pretzel E, Scheftel J. Occupational Hazards in Veterinary Medicine: Going Rogue Isn’t Vogue Anymore! MCRF Donors meeting. Marshfield, WI. February 3, 2012.
  • Fowler, H., Whitten T, Smith K, Griffith J, Pretzel E, Scheftel J. Minnesota Veterinary Personnel Occupational Hazards Survey. Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) Annual Conference. Pasadena, CA. June 11, 2013.
  • Klumb C, Schiffman E. Working together for a health fair: environmental health, human health, and animal health. St Cloud, MN. June 18, 2013.
  • Klumb C, Schiffman E. Working together for a health fair: environmental health, human health, and animal health. Healthy Fairs Workshops. Rochester, MN. June 20, 2013.
  • Klumb C. Barns, Bites, and Bugs, Oh My! People’s Energy Co-Op. Oronoco, MN. August 6, 2013.
  • Moovin’ and Groovin’. North Central Farm Women’s Network. Dorchester, WI. August 29, 2013.
  • Klumb C. What is UMASH and how is MDH involved? MDH Infectious Disease Epidemiology Prevention and Control Division Meeting. St Paul, MN. August 29, 2013.
  • Scheftel J. Swine influenza: The human and animal interface at Minnesota fairs and live animal markets. Leman Swine Conference. Minneapolis, MN. Sept 16-17, 2013.
  • Klumb C, Saunders S, Smith K. E. coli O157:H7 Surveillance in Agriculture Populations in Minnesota. North American Agricultural Safety Summit. Minneapolis, MN. September 25, 2013.
  • Klumb C, Schiffman E. Working together for a health fair: environmental health, human health, and animal health. MN Federation of County Fairs Annual Convention. Bloomington, MN. January 17, 2014.
  • Klumb C. A One Health Approach to Healthy Fairs. U of MN School of Public Health, Environmental Health Seminar. Minneapolis, MN. February 13, 2014.
  • Klumb C, Schiffman E. Working together for a health fair: environmental health, human health, and animal health. Healthy Fairs Workshops. Bemidji, MN. April 14, 2014.
  • Klumb C, Schiffman E. Working together for a health fair: environmental health, human health, and animal health. Healthy Fairs Workshops. Marshall, MN. April 27, 2014.
  • Smith KS. Sporadic Infections Associated with Animal Agriculture. Speaker notes. American Veterinary Medical Association Annual Conference. Denver, CO. July 27, 2014.
  • Smith KS. Animal Contact Compendium. American Veterinary Medical Association Annual Conference. Scheftel, JM. July 27, 2014.
  • Smith KS. Sporadic Infections Associated with Animal Agriculture. American Veterinary Medical Association Annual Conference. Denver, CO. July 27, 2014.
  • Klumb C, Saunders S, Smith KS. E. coli O157:H7 Surveillance in Agricultural Populations in Minnesota. North American Agricultural Safety Summit. Minneapolis, MN. September 25-27, 2014.

Project News

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