Allergic Sensitization and Work-related Asthma Among Poultry Workers in South Africa

Allergic Sensitization and Work-related Asthma Among Poultry Workers in South Africa

Study team: TS Singh, DO Matuka, P Dayal, R Baatjies, D Ngajilo, E Ratshikhopha, A Wadee, G Sekobe, M Jeebhay

NIOH, University of the Witwatersrand, University of Cape Town, Cape Peninsula University of Technology

Background: Agricultural sector is associated with a spectrum of different occupational diseases. Poultry farm workers are exposed to diverse and potentially hazardous biological agents such as dust particulate, fungi or molds, endotoxin, (1-3) β-D-glucan and allergens. Direct contact with chicken and poultry litter is a major cause of sensitization in some poultry workers. Up to 17.4% of poultry farmers reported symptoms of asthma in a previous study. This study focused on emerging agents that may lead to sensitization and asthma in poultry workers which is important as it will assist in management of affected workers and implementing control measures where necessary.   This study aimed to determine the prevalence of sensitization and asthma among poultry workers.

Method: A cross-sectional study of 230 workers was conducted using a modified ECRHS questionnaire, spirometry, FeNO, Phadiatop and sIgE to poultry farming related allergens. A total of 298 personal filter samples were collected from workers and analysed for total dust particulate, endotoxin, 1-3) β-D-glucan.

Progress: Study is completed


‒MSc Degree: P Dayal, University of the Witwatersrand.  (1-3)-β-D Glucan exposure assessment in poultry farms in South Africa.  2014

‒MMed Degree: D Ngajilo, University of Cape Town. Allergic sensitization and work related asthma among poultry workers in South Africa. 2016

‒Matuka DO and Singh T. Health effects associated with exposure to hazardous biological agents and their constituents in poultry farming. Occupational Health SA. May/Jun 2010, Vol 16 (3), 8-17

‒Ngajilo D. Respiratory health effects in poultry workers: Curr Allergy Clin Immunol J 2014;27(2):116-124.

‒Dorothy Ngajilo, Tanusha Singh, Edith Ratshikhopha, Payal Dayal, Onnicah Matuka, Roslynn Baatjies, Mohamed Jeebhay.  Risk factors associated with allergic sensitization and asthma phenotypes among poultry workers (In press)

‒Technical Report no. 2017:0510. The measurement of dust exposure and its effects on Fourie’s poultry farm workers in the North-West Province

‒Conferences: Edith Ratshikhopha, Dorothy Njajilo, Tanusha S Singh, Mohamed F Jeebhay.  Allergic sensitization and immunological profiles in poultry farmworkers, Current Allergy & Clinical Immunology | September 234 2015 | Vol 28, No 3, p234

‒Ngajilo D, Singh TS, Ratshikhopha E, Baatjies R, and Jeebhay MF. Risk factors associated with asthma phenotypes in poultry farm workers: preliminary results. PHASA conference. 8-10 October 2015, Durban, South Africa

‒Information leaflet for the workers: Protect yourself from harmful poultry dust