Airborne contamination by thermophilic actinomycetes, micromycetes and Gram negative bacteria was determined on 34 dairy farms and related to fodder drying and storage methods. Eighteen farms had a barn drying system, eight with additional heating; the remaining 16 had traditional fodder storage methods. Three air samples were obtained for each farm with a six stage Andersen sampler. The thermophilic actinomycetes were identified as Streptomyces and the dominant micromycetes as Aspergillus spp; there was no relation between the levels of these organisms. There were fewer thermophilic actinomycete colonies per Petri dish (stage 5 on the Anderson sampler) on farms with barn drying than on those with traditional storage (median (range) 7 (0-2628) and 56 (4-2628) respectively). The three farms where no thermophilic actinomycetes were found had barn drying with heating and the four most modern farms had lower thermophilic actinomycete colony counts than the others (median (range) 3 (0-10) and 48 (0-2628)). The level of thermophilic actinomycetes and, to a lesser degree, of micromycetes was higher where the farmer had farmer's lung. Thermophilic actinomycetes of the genus Streptomyces are probably the antigens associated with farmer's lung in the Doubs, and modern farms with barn drying and heating furnish some protection against this disease.
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