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Investigation of a Q fever outbreak in a Scottish co-located slaughterhouse and cutting plant

Wilson, L.E. and Couper, S. and Prempeh, H. and Young, D. and Pollock, K.G.J. and Stewart, W.C. and Browning, L.M. and Donaghy, M. (2010) Investigation of a Q fever outbreak in a Scottish co-located slaughterhouse and cutting plant. Zoonoses and Public Health, 57 (7-8). pp. 493-498. ISSN 1863-1959

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Abstract

Outbreaks of Q fever are rare in the UK. In 2006, the largest outbreak of Q fever in Scotland occurred at a co-located slaughterhouse and cutting plant with 110 cases. Preliminary investigations pointed to the sheep lairage being the potential source of exposure to the infective agent. A retrospective cohort study was carried out among workers along with environmental sampling to guide public health interventions. A total of 179 individuals were interviewed of whom 66 (37%) were migrant workers. Seventy-five (41.9%) were serologically confirmed cases. Passing through a walkway situated next to the sheep lairage, a nearby stores area, and being male were independently associated with being serologically positive for Q fever. The large proportion of migrant workers infected presented a significant logistical problem during outbreak investigation and follow up. The topic of vaccination against Q fever for slaughterhouse workers is contentious out with Australasia, but this outbreak highlights important occupational health issues.