Nasal and Oropharyngeal Microbiomes of Healthy Livestock Workers

Little information exists on the microbiomes of livestock workers. A cross-sectional, epidemiological study was conducted enrolling 59 participants (26 of which had livestock contact) in Iowa. Participants were enrolled in one of four ways: from an existing prospective cohort study (n = 38), from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Animal Feeding Operations database (n = 17), through Iowa county fairs (n = 3), and through snowball sampling (n = 1).

We collected swabs from the nares and oropharynx of each participant to assess the microbiome via 16s rRNA sequencing. We observed livestock workers to have greater diversity in their microbiomes compared to those with no livestock contact. In the nares, there were 27 operational taxonomic units found to be different between livestock workers and non-livestock workers with the greatest difference seen with Streptococcus and Proteobacteria. In the oropharynx, livestock workers with swine exposure were more likely to carry several pathogenic organisms. The results of this study are the first to characterize the livestock worker nasal and oropharyngeal microbiomes.