Food animal transport: a potential source of community exposures to health hazards from industrial farming (CAFOs)

J Infect Public Health. 2008;1(1):33-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jiph.2008.08.001. Epub 2008 Oct 27.


Use of antimicrobial feed additives in food animal production is associated with selection for drug resistance in bacterial pathogens, which can then be released into the environment through occupational exposures, high volume ventilation of animal houses, and land application of animal wastes. We tested the hypothesis that current methods of transporting food animals from farms to slaughterhouses may result in pathogen releases and potential exposures of persons in vehicles traveling on the same road. Air and surface samples were taken from cars driving behind poultry trucks for 17 miles. Air conditioners and fans were turned off and windows fully opened. Background and blank samples were used for quality control. Samples were analyzed for susceptible and drug-resistant strains. Results indicate an increase in the number of total aerobic bacteria including both susceptible and drug-resistant enterococci isolated from air and surface samples, and suggest that food animal transport in open crates introduces a novel route of exposure to harmful microorganisms and may disseminate these pathogens into the general environment. These findings support the need for further exposure characterization, and attention to improving methods of food animal transport, especially in highly trafficked regions of high density farming such as the Delmarva Peninsula.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • Air Pollution / analysis*
  • Animal Husbandry*
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage
  • Bacteria, Aerobic / drug effects
  • Bacteria, Aerobic / isolation & purification*
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial
  • Enterococcus / drug effects
  • Enterococcus / isolation & purification*
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Hazardous Substances
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Motor Vehicles
  • Poultry
  • Transportation


  • Air Pollutants
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Hazardous Substances