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Canadian Respiratory Journal
Volume 13 (2006), Issue 4, Pages 198-202
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2006/967895
Original Article

Prevalence of Work-Related Respiratory Symptoms in Iranian Farmers

N Hashemi,1 M Mirsadraee,2 MT Shakeri,3 and AR Varasteh4

1International Institute of Health Studies, Ottawa, Ontario, Iran
2Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Islamic Azad University of Mashhad, Iran
3Department of Medical Statistics, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran
4Immunology Research Center, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran

Copyright © 2006 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Animal exposure may be an important trigger for work-related symptoms among farmers.

OBJECTIVE: To estimate the prevalence of work-related respiratory symptoms (WRS) in sheep breeders and agricultural farmers and to determine work-related risk factors.

METHODS: A family doctor used a questionnaire to interview a cohort of 173 farmers comprised of 127 sheep breeders and 46 agricultural farmers in the rural area of Rokh (northeast Iran). The questionnaire pertained to recurrent wheezing, cough, breathlessness or chronic phlegm while at work (these symptoms define WRS), flu-like illness and physician-diagnosed asthma.

RESULTS: There were 71 subjects (41%) with WRS: 10 of 46 agricultural farmers (21.7%) and 61 of 127 sheep breeders (48.0%). The proportions of sheep breeders with wheezing (16.5%), asthma (14%), cough (29%), breathlessness (31.5%) and flu-like illness (38%) were higher than in agricultural farmers. A significant dose-response relationship among the daily hours worked with animals, the number of animals and the prevalence of symptoms was established for sheep farmers. Sheep shearing and the use of pesticide were associated with an increased risk of wheezing and phlegm.

CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that sheep farmers in general have higher rates of work-related symptoms than agricultural farmers. The severity of work-related symptoms will increase with an increase in frequency of animal contact; therefore, these results may underestimate the impact of this exposure.