Background: Current research efforts have mainly concentrated on evaluating the role of substances present in animal food in the etiology of chronic diseases in humans, with relatively little attention given to evaluating the role of transmissible agents that are also present. Meat workers are exposed to a variety of transmissible agents present in food animals and their products. This study investigates mortality from non-malignant diseases in workers with these exposures. Methods: A cohort mortality study was conducted between 1949 and 1989, of 8520 meat workers in a union in Baltimore, Maryland, who worked in manufacturing plants where animals were killed or processed, and who had high exposures to transmissible agents. Mortality in meat workers was compared with that in a control group of 6081 workers in the same union, and also with the US general population. Risk was estimated by proportional mortality and standardized mortality ratios and relative SMRs. Results: A clear excess of mortality from septicemia, subarachnoid hemorrhage, chronic nephritis, acute & sub-acute endocarditis, functional diseases of the heart, and decreased risk of mortality from pre-cerebral, cerebral artery stenosis were observed in meat workers when compared to the control group or to the US general population. Conclusions: We hypothesize that zoonotic transmissible agents present in food animals and their products may be responsible for the occurrence of some cases of circulatory, neurologic and other diseases in meat workers, and possibly in the general population exposed to these agents.
- Meat Processing
- Meat Workers
- Transmissible Agents
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