In this sub-study of the VGO-III programme on livestock farming and residential health, we will be studying potential pathogens in patients who have pneumonia and live near a goat farm.

When a person has pneumonia, it is usually treated immediately by their general practitioner (GP). Often, no diagnostic tests are done to identify which pathogen caused the pneumonia. For this sub-study, several hundred patients will be selected who consult their GP for pneumonia and who live in the vicinity of a goat farm. We will investigate which pathogen caused pneumonia in each of these patients. The pathogens that may have caused the illness will be mapped. We will compare the potential pathogens that are present in patients living in close proximity to goat farms and patients living further away. These findings will also be compared with pathogens that are present in healthy people (the control group). These are people who came into contact with pathogens without becoming ill. Researchers will not only be looking at new patients, but also at people who had pneumonia in the past. This will be done by investigating data from several hospitals on pathogens that caused pneumonia. 


The plan was to start including patients with pneumonia in March 2020 by focusing on GP practices located mainly in the eastern part of the province of Noord-Brabant (a study area during the first phase of the VGO research programme). However, this region was particularly hard-hit by the COVID-19 epidemic in March and April 2020, temporarily making it impossible for GPs to roll out the planned research activities. It was therefore decided to postpone the study. In August, a number of practices indicated that the situation had calmed down, and the inclusion of patients with pneumonia for this sub-study started in 4 GP practices. Another 10 GP practices joined in September. 

At the end of 2020, it became apparent that GPs were seeing far fewer patients with pneumonia in their practices than in previous years. The number of pneumonia cases recorded in the Nivel Primary Care Database was also substantially lower than in previous years. This may have been influenced by the coronavirus measures. In the first quarter of 2021, the situation was still similar to that in November 2020. The number of patients with pneumonia is expected to rise again (to normal levels) in autumn 2021. In order to collect sufficient data on patients with pneumonia, the study period in GP practices will be extended, most likely until autumn 2022. The analysis and reporting procedures cannot start until then. The results are expected to be published in 2024.

More information

If you have questions about this sub-study, or about the entire VGO-III programme on livestock farming and health, send an email to