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Sero-epidemiological Study of Brucellosis among Butchers in Makkah during Hajj, 1419 H.


Annually more than two million Muslims aggregate in Makkah to perform Hajj (pilgrimage). One of the pillars of Hajj is that each Hajjee sacrifices an animal. Animals are imported from different countries, and must be sacrificed within three days. Unhygienic butchering practices are noticed among butchers during Hajj. Brucellosis is an occupational hazard for slaughter-house workers. The objective of this study was to determine the sero-prevalence of brucellosis among butchers working during Hajj and to define demographic and behavioral correlates with brucella infection among butchers.


A cross-sectional survey was conducted in Makkah. A representative sample of butchers was selected using the proportional allocation method. A questionnaire containing data about attitude and practices of butchers was filled by means of interview and observation of the butchers. Blood samples were obtained and tested for brucella antibodies.


The studied sample amounted to 294, with a mean age of 36.0 (SD ±8) years, 54.8% were Syrian and 17.7% Egyptian. Around 3/5th (58.8%) reported a history of cutting wounds, 51.7% had wounds on their hands and 11.2% had wounds on their feet. Two hundred sixty seven blood samples were collected (91%), 51 (19.1%) were positive for Brucella. Crude analysis showed that Butchers from the Indian sub continent (ISC) and Egypt were at high risk of Brucella infection (OR=2.84, CI= 1.24-6.51) and (OR=2.3, CI=0.91-5.74) respectively. Permanent butchers had two times the risk of infection, butchers without certificates had seven times the risk of infection, those not wearing gloves or shoes were at high risk of infection (OR=3.64, CI= 1.02-15.42) and (OR=22.24, CI= 2.19-545.4) respectively. Holding the knife in the mouth during slaughtering was associated with 115 times higher risk of infection (OR= 115.94, CI= 33.5 - 443.8).


One fifth of the butchers were Brucella positive. Butchers from the Indian Sub- Continent, holding the knife in the mouth or working barefoot or without license were at high risk for Brucella infection. Screening and vaccination of animals for Brucella was recommended, along with strict adhesion to protective measures among butchers including wearing gloves, shoes, and masks while working, and health education for elimination of unhygienic butchering practices. Also, pre-employment examination and health license is highly recommended.