Hay diseases in Iceland

Main Article Content

David Gislason, MD Tryggvi Asmundsson, MD

Abstract

Diseases due to work in hay dust have long been known in Iceland and the first written records of them appear in the beginning of the 17th century. At the end of the 18th century, a district doctor alleges that they cause many deaths in the country. In the latter part of the 20th century, research was started to investigate the causes and nature of hay diseases in Iceland. Studies of allergens showed high levels of storage mites in hay. Highest levels were of Tarsonemus sp., Acarus farris and Lepidoglyphus destructor. A several micro-fungi were also found, most commonly Rhizopus sp., Penicillium sp. and Aspergillus sp. Micropolyspora faeni was also found in all hay samples.


A study was done on people aged 6-50 years in two districts in Iceland. In one district farmers used almost exclusively dry hay and in the other they used 80-90% silage. There was no difference in IgE-mediated allergy between the provinces, but most had positive skin tests for L. destructor and cattle.  Those with symptoms connected with hay dust most often reported nasal symptoms (79%), eye symptoms (63%), cough (41%), dyspnea (32%) and fever (21%). Those who had positive skin reaction complained most often of nose and eye symptoms.


A study was also conducted on subjects aged 16-87 years from the same regions investigating precipitin tests for M. faeni, Thermoactinomyces vulgaris and Aspergillus fumigatus. Pulmonary symptoms and lung function were also investigated. Precipitin tests were almost exclusively positive for M. faeni, and 5 individuals were positive for A. fumigatus and none for T. vulgaris. The precipitin tests were significantly more often positive in those working almost exclusively with dry hay (72.9% vs. 23.9%). They had also more commonly obstructive pulmonary disease (FEV1/FVC%<70: 24.8% vs. 9.5%) as well as dyspnea when walking on level ground. There was a positive correlation between positive precipitin tests for M. faeni and dyspnea walking on level ground.


The sensitivity and specificity of positive precipitin tests for M. faeni were investigated to detect farmer’s lung. The sensitivity was 82% and specificity was only 49%. A survey of emphysema in patients in the only Pulmonary Clinic in the country showed that farmers had more often emphysema than the rest of the country population, and 58% of farmers with emphysema had smoked compared to 94% of other emphysema patients.

Keywords: Hay diseases, Iceland, IgE sensitization, farmer´s lung, storage mites, emphysema.

Article Details

How to Cite
GISLASON, David; ASMUNDSSON, Tryggvi. Hay diseases in Iceland. Medical Research Archives, [S.l.], v. 12, n. 6, june 2024. ISSN 2375-1924. Available at: <https://esmed.org/MRA/mra/article/view/5332>. Date accessed: 22 july 2024. doi: https://doi.org/10.18103/mra.v12i6.5332.
Section
Research Articles

References

1. Helgason A, Sigurðardóttir S, Nicholson J, Sykes B, Hill EW, Bradley DG et al. Estimating Scandinavian and Gaelic ancestry in the male settlers of Iceland. Am J Hum Genet. 2000, Sep. 67 (3):697-717.

2. Steffensen, Jon. Fólksfjöldi á Íslandi í aldanna rás. Menning og meinsemdir 1975, 434-47.

3. Jónasson J. Íslenskir þjóðhættir 2010, 85.

4. Man ME, Jones PD. Geophysical Research letter Vol 30, nr. 15, 1820 gera, 10. 1029 / 2003GL 017814,2003.

5. Eyrbyggja saga, 37. kafli. Hið íslenska fornritafélag, Reykjavík 1934, 99-103.

6. Íslendingasaga 84. kafli. Sturlunga I. Reykjavík 1946, 348.

7. Manuscript in Árnastofnun: AM. 700a, 4to, bl.17r.

8. Manuscript in the National and University Library of Iceland: IB. 144, 8vo. 46. article.

9. Benedikt Jónsson. Einbúavísur nr. 21. Nokkur gamankvæði ort af ýmsum skáldum á 18. öld. Kaupmannahöfn 1832, 75.

10. Manuscript in Árnastofnun: Fol. AM. 433.

11. Pálsson S. Íslensk sjúkdómanöfn. Rit hins konunglega íslenska lærdómslistafélags 1790. 11: 221.

12. Pétursson J. Um líkamlega viðkvæmni. Rit hins konunglega íslenska lærdómslistafélags 1794, 13: 215-26.

13. Finsen J. Iagttagelser angående sygdomsforholdene i Island. Kaupmannahöfn 1874: 85-6.

14. Campell JM. Acute Symptoms following Work with Hay. Brit Med J 1932, 2: 1143-4.

15. Fuller CJ. Farmer's Lung: A Review of Present Knowledge. Thorax 1953, 8: 59-64.

16. Pepys J, Jenkins A. Precipitin (FLH) Test in Farmer‘s lung. Thorax 1965, 20: 21-35.

17. Cuthbert O, Brostoff J, Wraith D, Brighton WD. "Barn allergy" asthma and rhinitis due to storage mites. Clin Allergy 1979, 9: 229–36.

18. Hallas TE. Mites of stored hay in Iceland. J Agr Res Icel 1981, 13: 61-67.

19. Gravesen s, Magnússon V, Schwartz B og Gislason D. Potential allergens of stored hay in Iceland. Demonstration by Cultivation and Immunochemical Methods. J Agr Res Icel 1983, 15: 55-63.

20. Gislason D, Gravesen S, Ásmundsson T og Magnússon V. Immediate type allergy in two farming communities in Iceland. I Prevalence and main allergens. Laeknabladid 1988, 74: 303-8.

21. Gislason D, Ásmundsson T, Magnússon V og Gravesen S. Immediate type allergy in two farming communities in Iceland. II. Correlation between hay-making methods and symptoms related to work with forage. Laeknabladid 1988, 74: 309-13.

22. Magnússon V, Asmundsson T, Kristjánsdóttir H, Egilsdottir A, Gunnarsson E. Respiratory symptoms, lung function and precipitin tests in two farming communities in Iceland. Laeknabladid 1990, 76: 345-9.

23. Gislason D, Asmundsson T, Gudbrandsson B and Belin L. Fellipróf gegn mótefnavökum heysóttar og tengsl þeirra við lungnaeinkenni Íslendinga, sem unnið hafa í heyryki. Laeknabladid 1984;70: 281-6.

24. Sutinen S, Christoforidis AJ, Klugh GA, Pratt PC. Roentgenological criteria for the recognition of nonsymptomatic pulmonary emphysema: correlation between roentgenologic findings and pulmonary pathology. Am J Med 1971, 50: 756-62.

25. Heiðdal S, Ásmundsson T, Helgason H. Icelandic farmers get X-ray signs of emphysema without smoking. Laeknabladid 1990, 76: 325-8.

26. Benediktsdottir B, Guðmundsson G, Jörundsdottir KB, Volmer V, Gislason T. Prevalence of COLD in Iceland-the BOLD study. Laeknabladid 2007, 93 (6): 471-7.

27. Gislason D, Gislason T, Janson C, Blöndal T, Helgason H. Bráðaofnæmi hjá 20 - 44 ára Íslendingum. Laeknabladid 1995, 81: 606 - 12.

28. Gislason D, Gislason T. IgE-mediated allergy to Lepidoglyphus destructor in an urban population - epidemiologic study. Allergy 1999, 54: 878-83.

29. Svanes C, Jarvis D, Chinn S, Burney P. Childhood environment and adult atopy; results from the European Community Respiratory Health Survey. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1999, 103 (3 pt1): 415-20.

30. Ojwang V, Nwaru BI, Takkinen H-M, Kaila M, Hyöty H, Niemelä O et.al. Early exposure to cats, dogs and farm animals and the risk of childhood asthma and allergy. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2020, 00: 1-8.

31. Von Mutius E. Asthma and allergies in rural areas of Europe. Proc Am Thorac Soc. 2007, 4(3): 212-16.