Exposure to poultry dust and health effects in poultry workers: impact of mould and mite allergens

  • Davor Rimac
  • Jelena Macan
  • Veda M. Varnai
  • Marija Vučemilo
  • Kristina Matković
  • Ljerka Prester
  • Tatjana Orct
  • Ivančica Trošić
  • Ivan Pavičić
Original Article



The aim of the study was to evaluate exposure to moulds and house dust mite Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus in poultry farms, and related health effects in poultry workers (PW).


The study involved 41 PW and 45 control office workers. Working environment was evaluated for D. pteronyssinus allergen (Der p 1), moulds and endotoxin. In workers, eye, skin and respiratory symptoms, ventilatory lung function, atopy markers (skin prick test to inhalatory allergens, total IgE) and specific IgG to moulds were assessed.


Der p 1 levels ranged <0.1–3.3 μg/g, exposure to fungi was 4.9 × 103–6.8 × 104 cfu/m3, with prevailing Aspergillus, Penicillium and Mucor species, and endotoxin levels ranged 230–284 EU/m3. In comparison to control subjects, significantly higher prevalence of work-related nose, asthma, eye and skin symptoms, and slight decline in ventilatory lung function was found in PW. PW had significantly higher prevalence of IgG antibodies to moulds comparing to controls (63 vs. 36%, respectively, P = 0.01), especially to Alternaria and Aspergillus species. The prevalence of atopy markers in PW was lower than in population-based studies.


Hazardous levels of Der p 1, endotoxin and moulds were determined in poultry houses. High prevalence of work-related symptoms and IgG antibodies to moulds was found in PW. Healthy worker effect is proposed as an explanation of low atopy markers prevalence among PW.


Poultry workers Hypersensitivity Moulds Dust mites Der p 1 Endotoxin Healthy worker effect 



The study was done within the scientific projects No. 022-0222411-2410 and No. 053-0531854-1867, financially supported by the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports of Republic of Croatia. Projects were approved by authorized Ethical Committees.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Davor Rimac
    • 1
  • Jelena Macan
    • 1
  • Veda M. Varnai
    • 1
  • Marija Vučemilo
    • 2
  • Kristina Matković
    • 2
  • Ljerka Prester
    • 1
  • Tatjana Orct
    • 1
  • Ivančica Trošić
    • 1
  • Ivan Pavičić
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Medical Research and Occupational HealthZagrebCroatia
  2. 2.School of Veterinary MedicineUniversity of ZagrebZagrebCroatia

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