Your Potential Risks
Based on the species you are working with, you should be aware of the following potential health risks:
- Asthma and Allergy in Animal Handlers
- Bites and Scratches
- Cat Scratch Disease
- Enteric Pathogenic Bacteria
- Physical Injury
- Preventing Asthma in Animal Handlers
What You Should Do
1. Be knowledgeable about the potential for developing allergies and/or asthma due to animal handling- especially if you are already allergic.
2. Consider using a NIOSH-approved N95 respirator- even if you do not have any symptoms. These respirators have been shown to reduce the chance of developing laboratory animal allergies. In order to use a respirator, you must have a fit test through the Environmental Health & Safety.
3. Know proper handling techniques of cats. Only trained personnel should handle cats. Handling and restraint training can be scheduled through the Center for Comparative Medicine.
4. Gloves and long-sleeved apparel should be worn at all times when working with cats. Minimize wearing protective clothing, such as lab coats, outside of animal areas and laboratories.
5. Keep transport carriers out of labs/offices/public areas.
6. Use disposable supplies whenever possible. Sanitize laboratory and surgical areas after animal work.
7. Always wash your hands after coming in contact with cats or their saliva, urine, blood, feces, and/or bedding materials. This is the primary method of preventing laboratory acquired infections associated with the use of cats- even if you use gloves.