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There are a variety of biologics, vaccines, antibiotics, and hormones used in animal agriculture. Depending upon the procedure or pharmaceutical used, accidental injections or product exposures can result in mild to severe injuries. Needlestick injury (NSI) prevention, research, and education for veterinarians and agriculture workers is limited. Our objective was to collect and review published case reports and case series/surveys on human needlestick exposure to veterinary biologics and to summarize needlestick prevention strategies for agricultural workers/veterinarians.

A search was conducted of PubMed© and CABI© databases. References were reviewed to identify additional articles. NSI among agricultural workers were primarily included in this review. Thirty articles were applicable to exposures in agricultural settings. Relevant literature consisted of case reports, survey/case series articles, prevention documents, and background articles. Fifty-nine case patients were identified. Most of these cases were associated with exposures to specific vaccines or veterinary products. Injury location was identified from 36 individuals: 24 (67%) NSI to the hands, 10 (28%) injuries to the legs and two to other body locations. Of the 59 cases, 20 (34%) involved oil-adjuvant vaccines. Evidence of hospitalization was recorded for 30 case patients. The length of hospitalization was available from 11 case patients. Median length of hospitalization was 3 days (range 1 to 4). Surgical intervention was reported in 25 case patients. Outcome information was available on 30 case patients. Fifteen made a complete recovery within 2 weeks of treatment, 14 had residual sequellae attributed to the injury and there was 1 reported death. Of the 13 survey/case series articles: two focused on oil-adjuvant products, one on Brucellosis RB-51 vaccine, three on tilmicosin, one on Salmonella enteritidis vaccine, one on high pressure injection, and five were non-specific. NSI in agriculture workers and veterinarians can result in significant bodily injury and loss of work. There is a need for varied and comprehensive educational programs for agricultural workers and veterinarians to prevent NSI on livestock operations.


Buswell, M.L., Hourigan, M., Nault, A.J. and Bender, J.B. (2015) Needlestick Injuries in Agriculture Workers and Prevention Programs. Journal of Agromedicine. October 19th. .

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