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Prevention of Animal Related Disease


Zoonosis: A disease of humans acquired from an animal.

Wash your hands

The most common way to develop a zoonotic infection is to place the infectious material directly in your own mouth. Always wash your hands after handling an animal or anything that the animal has touched. Never smoke, drink, or eat in the animal room or before washing your hands.

Wear Protective Clothing

Wear protective clothing when working with animals. For some workers, protective clothing will consist of a lab coat; for others it may be a dedicated set of work clothing. Protective clothing must be laundered either at the research facility or by a commercial laundry service. Never take protective clothing home with you. Protective clothing insures that you won't bring potentially contaminated material home with you.

Use Personal Protective Devices

Some types of work require personal protective devices such as disposable gloves, face shields, masks, respirators, etc. Always use the protective devices where required, and follow your supervisor's instructions scrupulously. For information on wearing respirators contract Environmental Health and Safety at 515-6862.

Seek Medical Attention Promptly

If you are injured on the job, you must promptly report the accident to your supervisor or instructor, even if it seems relatively minor. Injured students, who are not employed, may contact Student Health Services at 515-2563 or go to the nearest emergency department. Students who are paid are considered to be employees and should seek medical attention at an authorized emergency medical center. Please refer to Occupational Accients, Illness, and Reports site for instructions on completing required forms and a list of approved emergency care centers. For medical advice employees may contact Student Health services at 513-2563; please be sure to state that you have an occupational medicine question. For questions concerning safety, employees may contact EHSC at 515-6862.

First Aid

First aid kits must be available to students and employees at all times. Kits must include alcohol or tincture of iodine, saline solution for eye cleansing, and bandages. Waterless soaps should always be carried out in the field. Supervisors or faculty must arrange to transport sick or injured person to the appropriate clinic or hospital depending on the severity of the injury or illness. Telephone numbers for medical facilities must be posted near telephones to ensure those needing emergency care receive timely medical attention.

Tell your physician you work with animals

Whenever you're ill, even if you're not certain that the illness is work or school related, always mention to your physician that you work with animals. Many zoonotic diseases have flu-like symptoms, and your physician needs this information to make an accurate diagnosis.

Get the Facts

All at-risk persons working in a facility should receive appropriate training on that facility's particular biohazards, precautions, and biohazard evaluation procedures. If there is something you don't understand, ask your supervisor or instructor. If your department would like to arrange a session to discuss zoonotic diseases or other occupational health issues, contact EHSC at 515-6862. We'll be happy to arrange a class on zoonosis for any department that has a need.

The supervisor’s role

The supervisor or faculty member is responsible for teaching the workers or students what they need to know to perform their job or assignment safely and effectively. Laboratory workers and animal care personnel should know how to recognize hazard warning signs, how to protect themselves and their coworkers against each recognized hazard, and how to react properly in the event of emergencies. Training should be appropriate for the employee's education, experience, and language skills. Training sessions should be documented. Everyone in the workplace should be aware of their own safe work practices and those of others. Safety is everyone's business.