Online Program

Zoonotic Pathogens as Occupational Hazards in Maryland Poultry Workers: Science and Advocacy in Tandem to Protect Workers from Work-Related Injuries

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Richard Bruno, MD, General Preventive Medicine Residency, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
US poultry workers are in a unique position in occupational health, due to their risk of exposure to zoonotic pathogens, and their subsequent risk of transmission of infection to other food products, as well as to their family and community members. During the slaughtering and processing of poultry, workers are at risk of injury and infection from contaminated animals. Currently, federal agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) do not consider these zoonotic pathogen exposures occupational hazards, leading to little data on the details of these risks.

Infectious skin diseases have been found to be the most common skin condition among Latino manual workers in North Carolina. Similar animal manufacturing industry settings have shown high rates of worker injuries and infections, such as the US pork industry, Chinese pork industry, and European poultry industry.

Currently no US standards or guidelines exist for surveillance of zoonotic pathogen exposure in this group of workers. Legal issues, such as undocumented worker status, complicate the reporting of injuries or dangerous working conditions. We outline a strategy to protect these employees by a series of: (1) coordinating with relevant stakeholders, (2) requesting that NIOSH complete a health hazard evaluation program of high risk plants, (3) crafting a model surveillance program, and (4) supporting the adoption of this model surveillance program via employers and union contract negotiators.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Occupational health and safety
Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines

Learning Objectives:
Describe the dangers of zoonotic pathogens in poultry processing

Keyword(s): Occupational Health and Safety, Food Safety

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I worked on this project as an MPH capstone project under the guidance of faculty member Ellen Silbergeld, PhD
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.