Neurologic symptoms associated with cattle farming in the agricultural health study

J Occup Environ Med. 2012 Oct;54(10):1253-8. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31825a2574.


Objective: Infection with Campylobacter jejuni, a bacterium carried by poultry and livestock, is the most frequently identified antecedent to the autoimmune neurologic condition Guillain-Barré Syndrome. We used Agricultural Health Study data to assess whether cattle farming was associated with prevalence of neurologic symptoms.

Methods: Prevalence of self-reported symptoms in cattle farmers (n = 8878) was compared with farmers who did not work with animals (n = 7462), using multivariate regression.

Results: Prevalence of numbness and weakness were increased for beef and dairy farmers compared with the reference group (P < 0.0001). Of cattle farmers, 48% did not report raising other animal species, and prevalence of numbness and weakness were also increased in this subgroup compared with the reference group (P < 0.02).

Conclusions: Occupational exposure to cattle was associated with increased prevalence of self-reported symptoms associated with peripheral neuropathy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Agricultural Workers' Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Animal Husbandry / statistics & numerical data*
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Iowa / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • North Carolina / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Self Report