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The NC Agromedicine Institute is a University of North Carolina Institute.

Member Universities:
East Carolina University
North Carolina State University
NC Agricultural & Technical State University
Arthropod Allergens: Distribution and Mitigation Strategies to Reduce Cockroach Allergens in Swine Farms and Workers' Homes
Project Name: Arthropod Allergens: Distribution and Mitigation Strategies to Reduce Cockroach Allergens in Swine Farms and Workers' Homes

Principal Investigator: Coby Schal, PhD, North Carolina State University

Project Type: Core Feasibility Education/Outreach

Project Description: Swine production is an important component of the agricultural economy of several States, including North Carolina. Cockroaches have long been recognized as the most important arthropod pests in swine production and severe infestations may contribute significantly to the maintenance and transmission of swine diseases. However, management of cockroach populations is severely constrained by many factors including cultural and production practices used at the farm, building design, and inadequate sanitation, as well as frequent re-introduction of cockroaches by workers and suppliers.

In addition, regulatory restrictions on the types and classes of pesticides that can be used in such facilities frequently result in overuse of several broad- spectrum chemicals, increasing the potential for insecticide resistance to develop in the cockroach population German cockroaches have been shown to carry a number of pathogenic microorganisms, Including multi-drug resistant microbes, and cockroaches are a significant etiological agent in allergic respiratory diseases, especially bronchial asthma. The overall goal of this project is to elucidate the spatial and temporal distribution of cockroach allergens in the confined swine production system.

We also propose to evaluate mitigation strategies to reduce exposure of workers and their families to potentially harmful allergens that are known to cause asthma. The specific objectives are to determine the spatial distribution of a major cockroach allergen, Bla gl, in cockroach-infested confined swine farms and in workers' homes, determine temporal changes in its distribution in relation to animal production practices, and determine the efficacy of German cockroach mitigation efforts on Bla. gl levels. The project will involve the coordinated efforts of entomologists and farm workers. Cockroach allergens will be collected in swab samples from surfaces, vacuum samples, and by air sampling, and an ELISA will be used to quantify Bla gl levels. Cockroach eradication and extensive power washes will be used to reduce Bla gl levels.

This project constitutes the most comprehensive application of basic research to gain a thorough understanding of a harmful environmental allergen that contributes significantly to occupational morbidity. The link between occupational and residential exposure is a particularly innovative component of this project. The findings will result in innovative approaches for the control of cockroach infestations, reduction of environmental allergens associated with them that are responsible for allergies and asthma and lessening the potential for transmission of pathogenic bacteria.

Project Accomplishments:

Annual Report 2003