Ramazzini; Blog on work and health by Annet Lenderink

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Mold and damp work spaces may cause new-onset adult asthma

Damp and moldy indoor environments aggravate pre-existing asthma, but may also induce new-onset asthma. Finnish researchers assessed the probability of molds being the cause of asthma in a series  of 694 patients examined because of respiratory symptoms in relation to workplace dampness and molds between 1995 and 2004. They had all been exposed to molds at work and had suffered from work-related lower respiratory symptoms.  

Using internationally recommended diagnostic criteria for occupational asthma (OA), they categorized the patients into three groups: probable, possible, and unlikely OA (156, 45, and 475 patients, respectively). In the group of probable OA, mold sensitization was found in 20%. The level of exposure and sensitization to molds was associated with probable OA. Exposure to damp and moldy workplaces can induce new-onset adult asthma. IgE mediation is a rare mechanism, whereas other mechanisms are unknown.

New-onset adult asthma in relation to damp and moldy workplaces
Kirsi Karvala1 et al. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health 0340-0131 (Print) 1432-1246 (Online) February 02, 2010 Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Asthma, Biological agents, No category, Physical agents, ,

No link between gastrointestinal symptoms and Helicobacter pylori status in sewage workers

The objective of this Belgian study was to assess the seroprevalence of Helicobacter pylori infection in sewage workers at municipal waste water sewage plants (WWTPs). The aim was to determine whether sewage exposure is an important risk factor for acquisition of H pylori and the possible association with gastrointestinal symptoms. A seroprevalence study of H pylori antibodies was conducted among 317 WWTP employees and compared with those of 250 employees of a pharmaceutical company.

No significant associations were found between the H pylori status and gastrointestinal symptoms, occupational exposures in different tasks, nor with hygienic practices. These results do not suggest that H pylori infection is a probable cause of part of gastrointestinal symptoms among Flemish municipal sewage workers of WWTPs.

Work-related Helicobacter pylori infection among sewage workers in municipal wastewater treatment plants in Belgium
Wim Van Hooste, Anne-Marie Charlier, Paul Rotsaert, Simon Bulterys, Guido Moens, Marc van Sprundel, Antoon De Schryver
Occup Environ Med 2010;67:91-97 doi:10.1136/oem.2008.040436r

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Biological agents, Infectious diseases, , ,

Google Flu Trends includes 14 European countries

Google Flu Trends, a tool that estimates the level of influenza activity in near real-time using aggregated search queries, has been released for 14 countries in Europe on 8 October 2009 by Google.org, the philanthropic arm of Google [1].

Eurosurveillance Edition  2009: Volume 14/ Issue 40 Article 7  Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Biological agents, Infectious diseases, ,

Wastewater workers infection risk

wastewater plantThe consulting service of our institute (Helpdesk) got over the years several questions on wastewater workers (WWs) and infections. Especially questions are asked on vaccination. Here some reassuring information from Italian research on wastewater workers and hepatitis A virus infection:

To evaluate the hypothesis of increased risk of HAV infection in WWs the prevalence of antibodies to HAV in 869 WWs was compared to 311 other subjects. It turned out that occupational exposure to sewage was not significantly associated with the prevalence of anti-HAV(+), although a significant association between anti-HAV(+) prevalence and duration of employment (P < 0.05) was found. The authors conclude that the relative risk of HAV infection among WWs seems to be correlated with low anti-HAV(+) prevalence in the general population

Wastewater workers and hepatitis A virus infection
Paolo Montuori, Mario Negrone, Gianluca Cacace and Maria Triassi
Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Biological agents, Infectious diseases, ,

Health care workers and H1N1

Information on transmission of H1N1 among Health Care Personnel by CDC, reported in MMWR weekly June 19, 2009 / 58(23);641-645:

Novel Influenza A (H1N1) Virus Infections Among Health-Care Personnel — United States, April–May 2009

This report was commented on at the very interesting blog “Effect Measure” in a recent post: Swine flu in health care workers: a first look

Another interesting source of information is Science Roll. It has this post that I like to share: H1N1 Pandemic Maps and Science

The Dutch government ordered 34 million vaccins against this flu yesterday. Let’s hope they will be ready in time.

Filed under: Biological agents, Infectious diseases

Hunters, bush meat and the search for new viruses

TED talk on virus hunting in Africa and other parts of the world.

A project by virus hunter Nathan Wolfe. He is outwitting the next pandemic by staying two steps ahead: discovering deadly new viruses where they first emerge — passing from animals to humans among poor subsistence hunters in Africa — before they claim millions of lives.

More information on this project on

Global Viral Forecasting Initiative GVFI.org

Filed under: Biological agents, Infectious diseases

Drummers’ peculiar risk…

drums

  • When searching the web I came across an interesting article in the New Scientist from last October on a peculiar risk for drummers: Anthrax

When playing drums, it’s best not to inhale

“Drummers seem to be unusually high-risk musicians … Now, along with booze, drugs and fast living, we can add another occupational hazard: anthrax…”

They give examples of cases in London, England today, Scotland and New York of drummers dying after inhaling anthrax spores from an animal skin they were making into a drum. Several people also came down with skin infections from anthrax in imported skins.

Actually I think this source of contamination was used in an episode of CSI New York…

Filed under: Biological agents, Infectious diseases,

HSE: Legionella in aqueous tunnel washers

Today (May 6th 2009) HSE published a SIM (Sector Information Minutes: Manufacturing Sector) on the risk of exposure to Legionella from a previously unidentified source, namely aqueous tunnel washers. It details the type of equipment involved in the first known outbreak and outlines key issues that are likely to be applicable in similar plant.

In 2008 two employees at a large engineering firm were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ Disease; the only common factor was their employment at the company. After investigation and sampling, the source of their infection was found to be an aqueous tunnel washer (pre-treatment plant) of the type that is typically found at motor vehicle and ‘white goods’ manufacturing facilities.

View SIM 030906 – Legionella in aqueous tunnel washers

Filed under: Biological agents, Infectious diseases, New occupational risks, ,

Swine Influenza Infections in USA and Mexico

Human cases of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection have been identified in the U.S. in San Diego County and Imperial County, California as well as in San Antonio, Texas. Internationally, human cases of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection have been identified in Mexico.

U.S. Human Cases of Swine Flu Infection, laboratory confirmed cases:

  • California 6 cases
  • Texas 2 cases

International Human Cases of Swine Flu Infection, laboratory confirmed cases:

  • Mexico 7 cases (only international human cases confirmed by CDC laboratories will be reported)

Investigations are ongoing to determine the source of the infection and whether additional people have been infected with similar swine influenza viruses.

CDC MMWR April 24th 2009

Filed under: Biological agents, Infectious diseases,

Amazing TED talk on bacteriae talking

TED talk by Bonnie Bassler:

Discovering bacteria’s amazing communication system

Filed under: Biological agents, Infectious diseases, ,

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Annet Lenderink

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