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Occupational Health Program for Employees with Animal Exposures

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Occupational Health Program for Employees with Animal Exposures - UNC EHS

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Occupational Health Program for Employees with Animal Exposures

  1. 1. Occupational Health Program for Employees with Animal Exposures
  2. 2. Objectives • Purpose of Program • Animals and Human Health Risk • Sources of Exposure • Allergy Symptoms • Minimize Risk = Minimizing Exposure • Zoonoses • Hazard agents used in research animals • Post test
  3. 3. Purpose of Program This training is intended for employees who do not directly handle animals but may otherwise have some exposure to animals. Employees with animal exposure are present in the same room on occasions but are not in direct contact or do not provide direct care of the animals. Examples include Facilities Services employees such as HVAC and maintenance personnel who may enter animal facilities on occasions or research personnel who work in the same lab where animals are present. In contrast, animal handlers include research animal handlers and animal caretakers. These employees are in physical contact with the animals because of their research and/or provide direct care for the animals. These employees are required to participate in the annual occupational health surveillance program for animal handlers.
  4. 4. ANIMALS AND HUMAN HEALTH RISKS LABORATORY ANIMAL ALLERGY Some studies report an incidence of 15% of the general population is allergic to animals. Other studies report that 30 – 50% of people with laboratory animal contact develop allergies. Studies report that 10 – 15% of these allergic workers develop asthma. Animal handlers are at risk of developing allergies. People with pre- existing animal allergies (cats) or a general allergic predisposition (atopy) are more likely to develop allergies to laboratory animals. Allergic people may have hypersensitivity to urinary and salivary proteins (rats, mice, cats, dogs) and dander (rabbits, guinea pigs, dogs, non-human primates)
  5. 5. Sources of Exposure Rodent urinary proteins are aerosolized on fine bedding particles. Any activity that disturbs bedding increases exposure. Fine particles/allergens can be inhaled exposing the mucous membrane and allergens in the hair or on clothing can expose the skin. Once sensitized, workers can develop symptoms after exposure to only tiny amounts of allergen.
  6. 6. Allergy Symptoms • Conjunctivitis1 – red, itchy, watery eyes, runny nose • Rhinitis1 – sneezing, itchy, runny nose, congestion • Contact urticaria2 – red itching skin, welts, hives • Asthma3 – cough (can be late-phase with symptoms starting several hours after leaving the animal facility), wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath • Anaphylaxis4 – itching, hives, throat tightness, fainting, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea 1 = common, 2 = somewhat common, 3 = about 15 – 30%, 4 = rare
  7. 7. Minimize Risk = Minimizing Exposure • Minimize time in the animal room • Wear dedicated personal protective equipment (PPE) • Open cages only in biosafety cabinets • Always wear a mask or other kinds of respiratory protection • Wash hands frequently • If you develop symptoms of allergy to lab animals, contact University Employee Occupational Health Clinic (UEOHC at 966-9119) for an appointment for a medical evaluation • For more information contact: UEOHC 966-9119 • No eating, drinking, smoking, applying cosmetics or handling contact lenses in any DLAM animal area.
  8. 8. ZOONOSES Persons working with animals are at more of a risk for zoonotic disease transmission than people who do not work with animals. Zoonotic agents are infectious agents that can be transmitted from animals to humans or from humans to animals. Zoonoses can cause minor or serious illness. In some cases, the organisms involved infect people, but they do not become ill. Other zoonoses can be very dangerous to people, especially anyone with an immune system weakened by age or illness.
  9. 9. ZOONOSES - Bacteria Animals may shed a variety of bacterial species that can cause illness in people. • Exposure to feces/urine (e.g. Salmonella, Shigella, Campylobacter, E. coli, Leptospira, Yersinia) • Bites/scratches: Bartonella (cat scratch disease), Pasteurella & others (wound infections)
  10. 10. ZOONOSES - Viruses • Herpes virus of Macaques – potentially fatal to humans • Rabies virus – potentially fatal to humans • Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis virus – rodents • Hanta virus – mainly wild rodents
  11. 11. ZOONOSES - Parasites • Gastrointestinal – giardia, cryptosporidium, tapeworms • Systemic – Toxoplasma (fatal defects if pregnant women exposed to shedding cats)
  12. 12. ZOONOSES - Trauma • Bites, scratches, kicks, etc.
  13. 13. Hazard agents used in research animals Animals exposed to biological, radiological, or chemical hazards can create a risk of exposure to people.
  14. 14. Immunocompromised/Pregnant Individuals • Immunocompromised individuals and pregnant women should be aware of the potential zoonotic hazards that may be present in the workplace. • If you are undergoing chemotherapy/radiation therapy, being treated with steroids or other drugs that could cause immunosuppression and/or you are pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant, please notify EHS to determine appropriate protective measures and monitoring.
  15. 15. Post-Test You have completed the Occupational Health Program for Employees with Animal Exposures training. If you have any questions regarding this training or any safety and health issue, please contact EHS at (919) 962-5507. Please remember that in order to receive credit for this training, you much complete the post- test.

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