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  • Author or Editor: Sandra L. Bragg x
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Objective—To determine the extent of leptospirosis in persons exposed to infected swine, confirm the source of disease, define risk factors for infection, and identify means for preventing additional infections during an outbreak in Missouri in 1998.

Design—Cross-sectional study.

Sample Population—240 people and 1,700 pigs.

Procedure—An epidemiologic investigation was conducted of people exposed to infected pigs from the University of Missouri-Columbia swine herd. The investigation included review of health of the pigs, a crosssectional study of the people handling the pigs, serologic testing of human and porcine sera, and risk-factor analysis for leptospirosis within the human population.

Results—Serologic testing of samples collected at the time of the investigation indicated that 59% of the pigs had titers to leptospires, denoting exposure. Of the 240 people in the exposed study population, 163 (68%) were interviewed, and of these, 110 (67%) submitted a blood sample. Nine (8%) cases of leptospirosis were confirmed by serologic testing. Risk factors associated with leptospirosis included smoking (odds ratio [OR], 14.4; 95% confidence interval [CI],1.39 to 137.74) and drinking beverages (OR, 5.1; 95% CI, 1.04 to 24.30) while working with infected pigs. Washing hands after work was protective (OR, 0.2; 95% CI, 0.03 to 0.81).

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Leptospirosis is a risk for swine producers and slaughterhouse workers, and may be prevented through appropriate hygiene, sanitation, and animal husbandry. It is essential to educate people working with animals or animal tissues about measures for reducing the risk of exposure to zoonotic pathogens. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000;216:676–682)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association