Serologic and behavioral risk survey of workers with wildlife contact in China

PLoS One. 2018 Apr 3;13(4):e0194647. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0194647. eCollection 2018.


We report on a study conducted in Guangdong Province, China, to characterize behaviors and perceptions associated with transmission of pathogens with pandemic potential in highly exposed human populations at the animal-human interface. A risk factor/exposure survey was administered to individuals with high levels of exposure to wildlife. Serological testing was performed to evaluate prior infection with several wildlife viral pathogens. Follow up serology was performed on a subset of the cohort as well as close contacts of individuals. 1,312 individuals were enrolled in the study. Contact with a wide range of wildlife species was reported in both occupational and occasional contexts. The overall proportion of individuals seropositive to any of the tested wildlife pathogens was approximately 4.0%. However, persons employed as butchers demonstrated a seropositivity of 9.0% to at least one pathogen of interest. By contrast, individuals working as hunters had lower rates of seropositivity. Among the study population, a number of other behaviors showed correlation with seropositivity, including contact with particular wildlife species such as field rats. These results demonstrate the need to further explore zoonotic risks of particular activities regarding wildlife contact, and to better understand risks of persons working as butchers with wildlife species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

Grants and funding

This study was made possible by Google/Skoll and the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Emerging Pandemic Threats PREDICT program (Cooperative Agreement No. AID-OAA-A-14-00102). The contents are the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government. Metabiota Inc., is a commercial company that received funding from Google/Skoll. The funder provided support in the form of salaries for authors CM, BS, NL, but did not have any additional role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. The specific roles of these authors are articulated in the ‘author contributions’ section.