, Volume 59, Issue 3, pp 167-175

Occurrence and significance of precipitating antibodies against thermophilic actinomycetes in the sera of dairy herd workers, Nangali, Delhi

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The study was prompted by the lack of information on the role of thermophilic actinomycetes in hypersensitivity pneumonitis in India. It reports the occurrence of precipitating antibodies against clinically important thermophilic actinomycetes in the sera of a population sample of dairy herd workers, Nangali, Delhi. Of 112 workers investigated, 28 (25%) showed precipitins againstFaenia rectivirgula, 4 (3.2%) againstSaccharomonospora viridis, 2 againstThermoactinomyces thalpophilus and one each againstT. vulgaris andT. sacchari. The results of enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) indicated that IgG antibody activity againstF. rectivirgula was significantly higher in the symptomatic group than in the asymptomatic group (p<0.05) of workers and the controls (p<0.01). Significant difference inF. rectivirgula IgG activity was also obtained between the precipitin-positive symptomatic group and the precipitin-positive asymptomatic group (p< 0.05). In strong contrast, the IgG antibody activity againstT. thalpophilus was found to be uniformly low. A limited aeromicrobiological sampling of the dairy farm revealedS. viridis (55.8%) to be the commonest species followed byT. vulgaris (19.2%),T. thalpophilus (18.5%),F. rectivirgula (5%) andT. sacchari (15%). On the basis of suggestive clinical and laboratory findings, farmer's lung disease was suspected in four dairy herd workers. A comprehensive clinical evaluation including pulmonary function studies on the dairy herd workers and their long-term follow-up is indicated to determine the extent of respiratory morbidity caused byF. rectivirgula, S. viridis, T. thalpophilus, T. sacchari andT. vulgaris in India.