SARS-CoV-2 Antibody Prevalence among Industrial Livestock Operation Workers and Nearby Community Residents, North Carolina, 2021 to 2022

Carolyn Gigot, Nora Pisanic, Kate Kruczynski, Magdielis Gregory Rivera, Kristoffer Spicer, Kathleen M. Kurowski, Pranay Randad, Kirsten Koehler, William A. Clarke, Phyla Holmes, D. J. Hall, Devon J. Hall, Christopher D. Heaney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Industrial livestock operations (ILOs), particularly processing facilities, emerged as centers of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreaks in spring 2020. Confirmed cases of COVID-19 underestimate true prevalence. To investigate the prevalence of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, we enrolled 279 participants in North Carolina from February 2021 to July 2022: 90 from households with at least one ILO worker (ILO), 97 from high-ILO intensity areas (ILO neighbors [ILON]), and 92 from metropolitan areas (metro). More metro (55.4%) compared to ILO (51.6%) and ILON participants (48.4%) completed the COVID-19 primary vaccination series; the median completion date was more than 4 months later for ILO compared to ILON and metro participants, although neither difference was statistically significant. Participants provided a saliva swab we analyzed for SARS-CoV-2 IgG using a multiplex immunoassay. The prevalence of infection-induced IgG (positive for nucleocapsid and receptor binding domain) was higher among ILO (63%) than ILON (42.9%) and metro (48.7%) participants (prevalence ratio [PR], 1.38; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.06 to 1.80; reference category ILON and metro combined). The prevalence of infection-induced IgG was also higher among ILO participants than among an Atlanta health care worker cohort (PR, 2.45; 95% CI, 1.80 to 3.33) and a general population cohort in North Carolina (PRs, 6.37 to 10.67). The infection-induced IgG prevalence increased over the study period. Participants reporting not masking in public in the past 2 weeks had higher infection-induced IgG prevalence (78.6%) than participants reporting masking (49.3%) (PR, 1.59; 95% CI, 1.19 to 2.13). Lower education, more people per bedroom, Hispanic/ Latino ethnicity, and more contact with people outside the home were also associated with higher infection-induced IgG prevalence. IMPORTANCE Few studies have measured COVID-19 seroprevalence in North Carolina, especially among rural, Black, and Hispanic/Latino communities that have been heavily affected. Antibody results show high rates of COVID-19 among industrial livestock operation workers and their household members. Antibody results add to evidence of health disparities related to COVID-19 by socioeconomic status and ethnicity. Associations between masking and physical distancing with antibody results also add to evidence of the effectiveness of these prevention strategies. Delays in the timing of receipt of COVID-19 vaccination reinforce the importance of dismantling vaccination barriers, especially for industrial livestock operation workers and their household members.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • COVID-19
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • health disparities
  • industrial livestock operations
  • seroprevalence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Microbiology


Dive into the research topics of 'SARS-CoV-2 Antibody Prevalence among Industrial Livestock Operation Workers and Nearby Community Residents, North Carolina, 2021 to 2022'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this