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An assessment of Irish farmers’ knowledge of the risk of spread of infection from animals to humans and their transmission prevention practices

  • M. M. MAHON (a1), M. C. SHEEHAN (a2), P. F. KELLEHER (a3), A. J. JOHNSON (a4) and S. M. DOYLE (a1)...

Summary

The aim of this study was to ascertain farmers’ knowledge of the risk of spread of infection from animals to humans, and their transmission prevention practices. This was a survey of farmers who submitted material to Ireland's Regional Veterinary Laboratories in 2015. There was an 84% response rate (1044 farmers). Ninety per cent of farmers were not aware that infection can be acquired from apparently healthy animals. Over half were not aware that disease could be contracted from sick poultry or pets. Conversely, the knowledge of the risk to pregnant women of infection from birthing animals was high (88%). Four-fifths of farmers sourced drinking water from a private well, and of these, 62% tested their water less frequently than once a year. Of dairy farmers, 39% drank unpasteurised milk once a week or more frequently. Veterinarians were the most commonly cited information source for diseases on farms. The survey findings indicate that the level of farmers’ knowledge and awareness of the spread of infection from animals to humans is a concern. Further education of the farming community is needed to increase awareness of both the potential biohazards present on farms and the practical measures that can be taken to mitigate the risk of zoonoses.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

*Author for correspondence: M. Mahon, Department of Public Health, Health Service Executive South East, Lacken, Dublin Road, Kilkenny, R95 P231, Ireland. (Email: marrita.mahon@hse.ie)

References

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