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 email@example.com or 206.685.1026.