Increased risk of pneumonia amongst residents living near goat farms in different livestock-dense regions in the Netherlands

Aniek Lotterman, Christos Baliatsas, Myrna M.T. de Rooij, Anke Huss, José Jacobs, Michel Dückers, Gert Jan Boender, Catherine McCarthy, Dick Heederik, Thomas J. Hagenaars, C.J. Yzermans, Lidwien A.M. Smit*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Previous studies, performed between 2009-2019, in the Netherlands observed an until now still unexplained increased risk for pneumonia among residents living close to goat farms. Since data were collected in the provinces Noord-Brabant and Limburg (NB-L), an area with relatively high air pollution levels and proximity to large industrial areas in Europe, the question remains whether the results are generalizable to other regions. In this study, a different region, covering the provinces Utrecht, Gelderland, and Overijssel (UGO) with a similar density of goat farms, was included to assess whether the association between goat farm proximity and pneumonia is consistently observed across the Netherlands.
Methods: Data for this study were derived from the Electronic Health Records (EHR) of 21 rural general practices (GPs) in UGO, for 2014-2017. Multi-level analyses were used to compare annual pneumonia prevalence between UGO and data derived from rural reference practices ('control area'). Random-effects meta-analysis (per GP practice) and kernel analyses were performed to study associations of pneumonia with the distance between goat farms and patients' home addresses.
Results: GP diagnoses of pneumonia occurred 40% more often in UGO compared to the control area. Meta-analysis showed an association at a distance of less than 500m (~70% more pneumonia compared to >500m) and 1000m (~20% more pneumonia compared to >1000m). The kernel-analysis for three of the four individual years showed an increased risk up to a distance of one or two kilometers (2-36% more pneumonia; 10-50 avoidable cases per 100,000 inhabitants per year).
Conclusions: The positive association between living in the proximity of goat farms and pneumonia in UGO is similar to the previously found association in NB-L. Therefore, we concluded that the observed associations are relevant for regions with goat farms in the entire country.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0286972
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jul 2023


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