Occupational Animal Contact in Southern and Central Vietnam
Tu NTK., Tue NT., Vapalahti O., Virtala A-MK., Van Tan L., Rabaa MA., Carrique-Mas J., Thwaites GE., Baker S.
Abstract Despite the global zoonotic disease burden, the underlying exposures that drive zoonotic disease emergence are not understood. Here, we aimed to assess exposures to potential sources of zoonotic disease and investigate the demographics, attitudes, and behavior of individuals with sustained occupational animal contact in Vietnam. We recruited 581 animal workers (animal-raising farmers, slaughterers, animal health workers, and rat traders) and their families in southern and central Vietnam into a cohort. Cohort members were followed for 3 years and interviewed annually regarding (1) demography and attitudes regarding zoonotic disease, (2) medical history, (3) specific exposures to potential zoonotic infection sources, and (4) socioeconomic status. Interview information over the 3 years was combined and analyzed as cross-sectional data. Of the 297 cohort members interviewed, the majority (79.8%; 237/297) reported raising livestock; almost all (99.6%; 236/237) reported being routinely exposed to domestic animals, and more than a quarter (28.7%; 68/237) were exposed to exotic animals. Overall, 70% (208/297) reported slaughtering exotic animals; almost all (99.5%; 207/208) reported consuming such animals. The consumption of raw blood and meat was common (24.6%; 73/297 and 37%; 110/297, respectively). Over half (58.6%; 174/297) reported recent occupational animal-induced injuries that caused bleeding; the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) was limited. Our work demonstrates that individuals working with animals in Vietnam are exposed to a wide range of species, and there are limited procedures for reducing potential zoonotic disease exposures. We advocate better education, improved animal security, and enforced legislation of PPE for those with occupational animal exposure in Vietnam.