Epidemiology and Infection

Research Article

Zoonotic infections in Northern Ireland farmers

C. F. Stanforda1, J. H. Connollya2, W. A. Ellisa3, E. T. M. Smytha4, P. V. Coylea2, W. I. Montgomerya5 and D. I. H. Simpsona6

a1 Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast BT12 6BA

a2 Regional Virus Laboratory, Royal Victoria Hospital Belfast

a3 Department of Agriculture, Northern Ireland

a4 Department of Bacteriology, Royal Victoria Hospital Belfast

a5 School of Biology and Biochemistry, Queens University of Belfast

a6 Department of Microbiology & Immunobiology, Queens University of Belfast


Evidence of past zoonotic infection was investigated serologically in randomly selected Northern Ireland farmers. The percentage of farmers with antibody was: Brucella abortus (0·7), Leptospira interrogans serovars (8·1), Borrelia burgdorferi (14·3), Toxoplasma gondii (73·5), Coxiella burnetii (28·0), Chlamydia psittaci (11·1) and Hantavirus (1·2).

The results show that Northern Ireland farmers have been exposed in the past to zoonotic infections. It is not known if these infections contributed to ill health in farmers but it is now time for the health of farm workers and their medical services to be reassessed.

(Accepted July 24 1990)