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Migrant and seasonal farmworkers provide much of the necessary labor to harvest and process agricultural commodities desired by consumers. Little is known about the health status (especially the parasitic burden) of farm laborers, who handpick agricultural items such as fruits and vegetables, despite being implicated as a means of foodborne pathogen transmission. The goal of this research was to develop a framework to investigate enteric parasitic infections among Hispanic farmworkers in Eastern North Carolina. Seventy-one interviews were conducted, 16 stool samples were collected, and two parasite-positive workers were found. In addition, some potentially harmful health practices (e.g., self-medication) were identified. Further research is necessary to fully understand the scope of farmworker health issues and the potential risk of disseminating foodborne pathogens to humans. The study model presented provides a geographically expandable format to allow for various types of health investigations including the prevalence of other pathogens.


Originally published in:

Russell, M.D., M.T. Correa, C.E. Stauber, and J.A. Kase. 2010. North Carolina Hispanic Farm Workers and Intestinal Parasitism: A Pilot Study of Prevalence and Health-Related Practices, and a Potential Means of Foodborne Transmission. Journal of Food Protection, Vol. 73, No. 5, 2010 p. 985-988.

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