O.L Okunye1, C.O. Babalola2, O.E. Adeleke3, P.A. Idowu3, E.M. Coker3, J.S Ayedun4, M.T Durowaye3

  1. Department of Pharmaceutical Microbiology, Faculty of Pharmacy, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ogun State, Nigeria.
  2. Department of Pharmaceutics and Pharmacy Technology, Faculty of Pharmacy, Olabisi Onabanjo University Ogun State, Nigeria.
  3. Department of Pharmaceutical Microbiology, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Ibadan, Ibadan Nigeria.
  4. Department of Biological Sciences & Industrial Biotechnology. Caleb University, Imota, Lagos State, Nigeria


Background: Skin sepsis is a pyodermal infection caused by Lancefield’s group streptococci and Staphylococcus aureus. It is characterized by discolored and mottled skin, cellulitis, impetigo and multi-systemic collagen muscularitis and can be transmitted from person to person.

Objective: This study sampled the skin of consented abattoir workers in Moniya Ibadan, for clinical sepsis, with a view to establishing a causal relationship between the infection obtained and the abattoir workers examined.

Methodology: A total of 100 meat handlers’ hands and forearms were examined. Swabs were taken from lesions which appeared clinically to be infected and then propagated on selective culture media designed for staphylococci and streptococci. Conventional biochemical tests and Lancefield determination were carried out as considered appropriate.

Results: Of the 100 swabs from the categories of abattoir workers examined, 43 streptococci (35 from lesion 8 from wound) and 36 Staphylococcus aureus (20 from lesion and16 from wound) were obtained. The regression analysis from the grouping of gender, causative agents and specific infection as a predictor of infection were recorded to be significant (b = 0.18; t = 1.74; p < 0.05) for the nature of but non-significant (b = -0.067; t = -0.649; p > 0.05) for the gender. In-vitro antigen antibody reaction on StreptexM kit elicited varied reactions to Lancefield’s serological grouping (A (56%), B (9%) C (7%) G (22%) and L (7%). Resistance of Staphylococcus aureus in varying percentages (Tetracycline and gentamicin 62%, meropenem and ceftriaxone 100%, amikacin, 10%, and vancomycin 80%) to conventional antibiotics were observed.

Conclusion: From this study point of view, the causal relationship between the infection and the infected has been established, from the pathogens of pyodermal origin contacted from cows, that causes sepsis across all the category of abattoir workers studied. There is a need to provide an ideal functioning abattoir fully equipped with required facilities for safety and ease of execution of duties.

Keywords: Skin sepsis, Abattoir, Abattoir workers, Moniya, Ibadan


Dr. O.L Okunye
Dept. of Pharmaceutical Micro.,
Faculty of Pharmacy,
Olabisi Onabanjo University,
Ogun State,
E-mail: femoceutic@gmail.com
Date of Acceptance: 30th March, 2023
Publication Date: June 2023


Streptococcal skin sepsis is a pyodermal infection caused by Group A Lancefield’s related streptococci and Staphylococcus aureus. It is characterized by discolored and mottled skin, cellulitis, impetigo and multi- systemic collagen muscularitis. Skin sepsis appears to be common among meat handlers attributable to their behavioral attitude toward the norms of personal hygiene. By comparison, outbreaks of streptococcal and staphylococcal skin infections occur fairly frequently and in recent years have become increasingly recognized as an occupational hazard of meat” handlers. When such episodes occur they can involve a substantial proportion of those at risk.1

Abattoir workers and meat handlers are professional personnel trained in the art of killing, skinning, dressing and cutting up of carcass of animals. Their function also includes indoor confinement of animals while awaiting slaughter and wrapping raw or frozen stored slaughtered animals for human consumption. These categories of workers are at risk of zoonotic skin infections from animal parasites, fungi, bacterial or infection of viral origin.2

Abattoir popularly called “Kara” which means cattle colony in the southwest Nigerian states are made up of manual slaughter house, mechanical slaughter house and the lirage (a holding pasture where the animals are allowed to graze until 24 hours before slaughter) for veterinary inspection. Abattoir workers are usually exposed to biological, chemical and physical occupational hazards at work. The biological hazards could originate from parasite, bacterial or viral loads inherent within and without the animals, chemical from disinfection and sterilization procedures, while physical hazards include; injuries, cuts, wounds, needle-stick injuries, scalds, accidents from direct confrontation with a maddening cow. Other predisposing factors are contaminated animal contact, slippery surfaces, polluted air, unkempt environment, as well as behavioral unhygienic practices.3

Abattoir worker can be a victim of mechanical injury, shock and other risk factors like waist pain, stress, injury while lifting heavy equipment and manipulating body parts of large animals which could stress their muscles and joints, thus subjecting them to severe physical stress and pain. These activities might predispose them to problems with muscles and bones. Also, the use of chemicals with different concentration in abattoir environment for sterilization, disinfection, decontamination, control of vectors of diseases and cleaning are another occupational health hazards in addition to other preventive and biosecurity measures, which are capable of causing inflammation, cancer, respiratory diseases, and allergic hypersensitivity reactions thus jeopardizing workers health.4

The nature of slaughtering and meat handling involves a high risk of traumatic injury by knives and bonesplinters. Animal bone splinters can cause a variety of injuries varying from simple punctures to large lacerations. These are usually more traumatic than the single cuts caused by knives, and bone punctures appear predominately to be those which develop into skin infections of prolonged duration. The groups of meat handlers who are especially at risk are butchers and those handling unboned or part carcases.5 etahemolytic streptococci or Staphylococcus aureus had been reported in the variety of skin infections which includes wound, lesion, septic cuts, abscess, lymphangitis and scratches, as well as infection in pierced ear lobes6

The mental orientation, poverty redesigned minds and carefree attitudes of the abattoir workers simply disregard the few facilities for safety, though most of those facilities were unmaintained where available. And due to their daily exposure to the work, their immunity may have been fortified, but may not be sufficient to suppress both the inherent and outsource biological challenges from the sick animals.7

In Nigeria, predominantly where abattoir are built by government, community or self-effort, the facilities are either not there or functioning sequel to the negligence, underfunding, mismanagement or misplaced priority from the providers thereby exposing various categories of abattoir workers to occupational health hazards.8

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that occupational hazards have continued to rise in the past decades, resulting in increasing rates of occupational exposure to blood-borne illnesses and other communicable diseases mostly in the developing and transitioning countries.9

This study therefore, sampled the skin of consented abattoir workers in Moniya Ibadan, Southwest Nigeria for clinical sepsis, unravel the Lancefield’s status of streptococci isolated, determine the susceptibility of Staphylococcus aureus obtained from the sample to some selected conventional antibiotics and relates the causal agent with the zoonotic infection unmasked.