ESBL carriage in pig slaughterhouse workers is associated with occupational exposure

W. Dohmen*, L. Van Gompel, H. Schmitt, A. Liakopoulos, L. Heres, B.A. Urlings, D. Mevius, M.J.M. Bonten, D.J.J. Heederik

*Corresponding author for this work

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31 Citations (Scopus)


We investigated the prevalence of extended-spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL) carriage in slaughterhouse workers and the association with occupational exposure to slaughter animals and products. Stool samples from 334 employees in a Dutch pig slaughterhouse were obtained. Presence of ESBL was determined by selective plating, microarray analysis, and gene sequencing. Questionnaires were used to collect personal and occupational information. The overall prevalence of ESBL carriage was 4·8% (16/334). All ESBL-producing isolates were Escherichia coli. The ESBL genes detected were bla CTX-M-1 (n = 8), bla CTX-M-15 (n = 3), bla CTX-M-27 (n = 2), bla CTX-M-24 (n = 1), bla CTX-M-55 (n = 1), and bla SHV-12 (n = 1). A higher prevalence of ESBL was seen in workers in jobs with as tasks ‘removal of lungs, heart, liver, tongue’ (33%), and ‘removal of head and spinal cord’ (25%). For further analysis, participants were divided in two groups based on potential exposure to ESBL as related to their job title. One group with an assumed higher exposure to ESBL (e.g. stable work, stabbing, dehairing, removal of organs) and another group with an assumed lower exposure to ESBL (e.g. refrigeration, packaging and expedition). In the ‘higher exposure’ group, ten out of 95 (10·5%) were carrying ESBL vs. six out of 233 (2·6%) in the ‘lower exposure’ group. Human ESBL carriage was significantly associated with job exposure in the slaughterhouse (OR 4·5, CI 1·6–12·6). Results suggest that ESBL carriage in slaughterhouse workers overall is comparable with the Dutch population. Within the slaughterhouse population a difference in carriage exists depending on their position along the slaughter line and tasks involved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2003-2010
JournalEpidemiology and Infection
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • bla
  • occupational epidemiology
  • pig abattoir workers
  • zoonosis


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