Animal Use Medical Screening (AUMS)

 

The animal use health screening program evaluates and addresses potential health risks related to working with research animals. It is offered to all University faculty, staff, and students who work directly with animals or unfixed animal tissues or body fluids. It is also offered to Facilities staff who enter the animal-care environment.

Lab animal allergies

Allergies are the body’s immune response from exposure to proteins called allergens. In animal settings, allergen sources include dander, fur, scales, body wastes and saliva from animals. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health estimates that about one-third of animal handlers have allergic symptoms and about 10 percent have animal-induced asthma. The goal of the animal use health screening is to identify and reduce the risk of developing lab animal allergies and to help prevent existing allergies from worsening.

EH&S encourages reducing exposure to animal allergens through increasing awareness, implementing workplace controls, modifying work practices, and utilizing personal protective equipment (PPE). Workplace engineering controls include ventilation and biological safety cabinets. Work practice controls include behaviors such as good hygiene and good housekeeping. PPE, such as a respirator, can help reduce inhalation of allergens.

As part of the AUMS process, an occupational health nurse discusses your individual risk and methods for reducing exposure to animal allergens. If there is a need for a worksite evaluation or medical follow up, we refer you to appropriate resources.

For more information about lab animal allergies, please see the Laboratory Animal Allergy Focus Sheet.

When is the animal use health screening required?

You must complete the animal use health screening prior to work in any University animal care and use environment. EH&S requests that you complete follow-up screenings on a regular basis, the frequency of which varies based on your role in the animal use and care environment and on your personal health risk factors. EH&S also requests that you complete a follow-up screening any time you have a change in your health status.

Most personnel complete the online AUMS form every three years. Personnel with more direct contact with animals and their housing and bedding, such as animal husbandry, veterinary staff, and other designated research support personnel, complete the screening every year as part of an in-person nurse consultation. After completing the online or in-person animal use health screening, the EH&S occupational health nurse submits your name to the University’s Office of Animal Welfare (OAW) as personnel cleared to work in animal care and use environments.

If you have any questions, you can contact an occupational health nurse at emphlth@uw.edu or 206.685.1026.

Steps to complete an online screening form

If you have been asked to complete an online medical screening:

  1. Complete and submit a confidential online form (UW NetID required).
  2. An EH&S occupational health nurse will screen your form and may contact you to discuss health issues, typically within one week.
  3. You will receive a clearance notification email from the EH&S occupational health nurse. This email will include a link to the electronic system where you can access the clearance letter.
  4. After you are cleared, the online system notifies the University’s Office of Animal Welfare of your clearance status.
  5. To renew, submit your form two to six months before the renewal or “recall date.” The recall date is listed on the clearance letter and is available in the electronic system.

What you need to know

  • If you plan to enter an animal care and use environment, you are required to submit a confidential AUMS form.
  • Renew your AUMS form every three years or any time a change in your health status occurs.

Contact an EH&S occupational health nurse with any questions or concerns at emphlth@uw.edu or 206.685.1026.

What you can do to stay safe

  • Follow the recommendations from the occupational health nurse.
  • Adhere to any workplace safety practices and procedures to help reduce exposure to animal allergens.

Services available

EH&S provides consultation with an EH&S occupational health nurse.