Serological evidence of equine influenza infections among persons with horse exposure, Iowa.
BACKGROUND: Equine influenza virus (EIV) is considered enzootic in North America and experimental studies have documented human EIV infections. STUDY DESIGN: This cross-sectional study examined 94 horse-exposed and 34 non-exposed controls for serological evidence of EIV infection. Sera were evaluated for antibodies against three EIV and two human H3N2 viruses using microneutralization (MN), neuraminidase inhibition (NI), enzyme-linked lectin (ELLA), and hemagglutination inhibition (HI) serological assays. Risk factor analyses were conducted using logistic regression and proportional odds modeling. RESULTS: There was evidence of previous infection by MN assay against A/equine/Ohio/2003(H3N8) but not the other 2 EIVs. Eleven (11.7%, maximum titer 1:320) horse-exposed and 2 (5.9%, maximum titer 1:160) control subjects had MN titers ≥1:80. Among the horse-exposed, 18 (19.1%) were positive by NI assay and 8 (8.5%) had elevated ELLA titers ≥1:10. Logistic regression modeling among horse-exposed revealed that having an elevated MN or ELLA titer (≤1:10) was associated with having a positive NI titer (OR=4.9; 95% CI=1.3-18.7, and OR=53.2; 95% CI=5.9-478.5, respectively). Upon proportional odds modeling, having worked as an equine veterinarian (OR=14.0; 95% CI=2.6-75.9), having a history of smoking (OR=3.1; 95% CI=1.2-7.7), and receipt of seasonal influenza vaccine between 2000 and 2005 (OR=2.3; 95% CI=1.1-5.0) were important independent risk factors for elevations in MN assay. CONCLUSIONS: While we cannot rule out confounding exposures, these data support the premise that occupational exposure to EIV may lead to human infection.
Larson, KRL; Heil, GL; Chambers, TM; Capuano, A; White, SK; Gray, GC
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