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Study Examines Causes of Cattle-Related Deaths

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Each year, about 20 people are killed by cattle on U.S. farms and working with cattle in enclosed spaces is the leading cause of such fatalities, says a new study.

Researchers studied media reports of cattle-related deaths in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska during 2003-08 and found that 33 percent of deaths occurred while the victims were working with cattle in enclosed spaces. Other circumstances included moving or herding cattle (24 percent), loading cattle (14 percent), and feeding (14 percent).

One-third of deaths were caused by animals that had previously exhibited aggressive behavior, said Wayne T. Sanderson, an associate professor of occupational and environmental health at the University of Iowa.

He said farmers need to take precautions to prevent close contact with cattle, especially those that are aggressive.

The study appears in the current Weekly Morbidity and Mortality Report, published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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