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ABSTRACT OF THE WEEK

International archives of occupational and environmental health

Upper and lower respiratory airway complaints among female veterinary staff.

Int Arch Occup Environ Health. April 2022;95(3):665-675.
F Hoffmeyer1, A Beine2, A Lotz3, O Kleinmüller4, C Nöllenheidt5, E Zahradnik6, A Nienhaus7, M Raulf8
1 Institute for Prevention and Occupational Medicine of the German Social Accident Insurance, Institute of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (IPA), Bürkle-de-la-Camp-Platz 1, 44789, Bochum, Germany. hoffmeyer@ipa-dguv.de.; 2 Institute for Prevention and Occupational Medicine of the German Social Accident Insurance, Institute of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (IPA), Bürkle-de-la-Camp-Platz 1, 44789, Bochum, Germany.; 3 Institute for Prevention and Occupational Medicine of the German Social Accident Insurance, Institute of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (IPA), Bürkle-de-la-Camp-Platz 1, 44789, Bochum, Germany.; 4 Institute for Health Service Research in Dermatology and Nursing (IVDP), Center for Epidemiology and Heath Service Research in Nursing (CVcare), Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE), Hamburg, Germany.; 5 Institute for Prevention and Occupational Medicine of the German Social Accident Insurance, Institute of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (IPA), Bürkle-de-la-Camp-Platz 1, 44789, Bochum, Germany.; 6 Institute for Prevention and Occupational Medicine of the German Social Accident Insurance, Institute of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (IPA), Bürkle-de-la-Camp-Platz 1, 44789, Bochum, Germany.; 7 Institute for Health Service Research in Dermatology and Nursing (IVDP), Center for Epidemiology and Heath Service Research in Nursing (CVcare), Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE), Hamburg, Germany.; 8 Institute for Prevention and Occupational Medicine of the German Social Accident Insurance, Institute of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (IPA), Bürkle-de-la-Camp-Platz 1, 44789, Bochum, Germany.
© 2021. The Author(s).

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:Working with animals is characterized by exposure to particulate, biological or chemical matter, and respiratory complaints are common. The aim of our cross-sectional study was to assess the prevalence of respiratory symptoms and diagnoses among veterinary staff.
METHODS:Participants working in veterinary practices were examined and a detailed questionnaire was used to collect data. IgE tests to common and animal allergens were performed to specify sensitization. Associations with respiratory outcomes were analysed using logistic regression models while controlling for potential confounders.
RESULTS:Atopy was seen in 31% of the 109 female participants. Symptoms of rhinoconjunctivitis were the most frequent complaints (n = 92; 84%). In 18% the diagnosis was confirmed by physicians. Symptoms of upper and lower airways were highly correlated and an asthma diagnosis was confirmed in 11% of participants. Modelling revealed that sensitization against cats/dogs was a significant risk factor for respiratory symptoms of upper [odds ratio (OR) 4.61; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.13-18.81] and lower airways (OR 5.14; 95% CI 1.25-21.13), physician-confirmed rhinoconjunctivitis (OR 13.43; 95% CI 1.69-106.5) and asthma (OR 9.02; 95% CI 1.16-70.39) in assistant staff of small-animal practices.
CONCLUSIONS:In several cases, rhinoconjunctivitis worsened after entering the profession. Atopy and specific sensitization to cats/dogs were risk factors for health impairments. Thus, to implement preventive measures, veterinary practice staff should be educated that upper respiratory tract symptoms are not harmless and should be diagnosed and treated early.

Keywords
Asthma; Atopy; Occupational health; Rhinitis; Risk factor; Sensitization; Veterinary staff;

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