A Comprehensive Sampling Study on SARS-CoV-2 Contamination of Air and Surfaces in a Large Meat Processing Plant Experiencing COVID-19 Clusters in June 2020

Myrna M.T. De Rooij*, Reina S. Sikkema, Martijn Bouwknegt, Yvette De Geus, Kamelia R. Stanoeva, Sigrid Nieuwenweg, Adriana S.G. Van Dam, Ceder Raben, Wietske Dohmen, Dick Heederik, Chantal Reusken, Adam Meijer, Marion P.G. Koopmans, Eelco Franz, Lidwien A.M. Smit

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

Objective We aimed to assess SARS-CoV-2 contamination of air and surfaces to gain insight into potential occupational exposure in a large meat processing plant experiencing COVID-19 clusters. Methods: Oro-nasopharyngeal SARS-CoV-2 screening was performed in 76 workers. Environmental samples (n = 275) including air, ventilation systems, sewage, and swabs of high-touch surfaces and workers' hands were tested for SARS-CoV-2 RNA by real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Results: Twenty-seven (35.5%) of the (predominantly asymptomatic) workers tested positive with modest to low viral loads (cycle threshold ≥ 29.7). Six of 203 surface swabs, 1 of 12 personal air samples, and one of four sewage samples tested positive; other samples tested negative. Conclusions: Although one third of workers tested positive, environmental contamination was limited. Widespread SARS-CoV-2 transmission via air and surfaces was considered unlikely within this plant at the time of investigation while strict COVID-19 control measures were already implemented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E227-E233
JournalJournal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
Volume65
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2023

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