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Mechanical Injury Hazards

Mechanical injury is the most common hazard associated with animal research. Animals are capable of inflicting extensive injury to humans. Most research animals can bite or scratch. Livestock, large animals, and primates can bite, batter, or crush. Because disease and infection are easily spread by bites and scratches, researchers must take special care when working with animals.

Animal Allergies

Researchers who work with animals may develop allergic reactions, including rhinitis, conjunctivitis, asthma, and dermatitis. Symptoms of animal allergy may include nasal congestion, sneezing, watery eyes, hives, and eczema.

Rabbits and rodents are the most common research animals that cause severe allergic reactions. Animal dander, fur, bedding, urine, saliva, and tissues are the primary sources of allergic antigens. Mold spores and proteins in animal feed may also act as antigens.

To reduce exposure to animal allergens, minimize the generation of aerosols and dust and wear protective equipment. Take special care to wear respiratory protection and gloves when feeding animals, handling animals, changing bedding, or cleaning cages.

Indirect Animal Hazards

Indirect hazards occur when research animals are intentionally exposed to biological agents, chemicals, and radioactive materials. Because animal bedding, equipment, waste products, and surrounding atmosphere may become contaminated, these items can be hazardous. To protect personnel, manage all animal products and areas according to specific procedures approved by the appropriate oversight committee.