Authors: O Matuka & T Singh

Source: Occupational Health South Africa, May/Jun 2010, Vol 16 (3), 8-17


Introduction: Poultry workers are at increased risk of respiratory disorders as a result of exposure to organic dust, microorganisms and their microbial cell wall agents. Previous studies have revealed that farm workers experienced respiratory symptoms such as cough, phlegm and wheezing, while some developed asthma and toxic pneumonitis. The aim of this review is to highlight the health effects associated with poultry dust exposure of various poultry categories. It also aims to promote awareness on measures that could be implemented to minimise the burden of respiratory disease.

Methodology: A literature review of scientific papers (1980-2010) related to biological hazards in poultry settings was conducted. The search was done using Google, major occupational health journals and information from credible occupational health and safety institutes.

Results: The paper presents a review of potential health effects associated with occupational exposure to poultry dust and hazardous biological agents in poultry farming. The review also discusses the emerging biological agents found in poultry settings that have been associated with work-related respiratory disorders.

Conclusion: Poultry dust exposure appears to have an effect on the respiratory response of workers. An understanding of exposure to multiple biological agents associated with poultry farming is critical in reducing respiratory disorders thus creating a safe environment for employees. Further studies on dose response relationships and OEL’s are required.

Keywords:poultry, hazardous biological agents, health effects, dust, exposure, occupational, bacteria, fungi, virus, endotoxin, (1-3) B-D-glucan, MVOCs, allergens