What you need to know
The potential hazards associated with the care and use of research animals include:
- Zoonotic disease
- Animal allergens
- Physical hazards such as bites and scratches and ergonomic hazards
- Biological, chemical, and/or radiological hazards depending on the research
Prior to handling laboratory animals, you need to be trained in proper animal handling, restraint techniques and any other factors specific to the animal species you are working with. The animal use medical screening (AUMS) program evaluates and addresses the potential personal risk of working with research animals including developing lab animal allergies. The screening must be offered to anyone who enters the animal care and use environment. See Animal Use Medical Screening.
Zoonotic diseases are those that can be transmitted from animals to humans. According to the CDC, at least 60% of human pathogens are of zoonotic origin. Many laboratory animal species used today are bred to be free of zoonotic disease, but some laboratory animals, such as non-human primates, may be capable of transmitting life-threatening disease. Field work involving wild animals also poses potential for exposure to zoonoses. If you or a member of the research team develops symptoms of a zoonosis or has health concerns about working with animals, be sure to contact the UW Employee Health Center. Review the information below for the animal species you will be working with. The information is essential as part of hazard awareness training in working with animals.
If you are working with any hazardous agent, you need to know how to work safely at all times and the work practices needed to minimize your potential exposure to hazardous agents. EH&S Reproductive and Developmental Health Guidance provides information about potential reproductive and developmental hazards in the workplace, which may include physical hazards or chemical, biological, or radiological substances. The goal is to protect the reproductive health of males and females from occupational exposures which are known or suspected of being capable of posing a hazard to human reproduction. EH&S is available to assist in evaluating risks and to advise on appropriate control measures to help reduce the potential hazards.
Work with certain biological agents may require medical counseling, medical surveillance, and/or immunization. Talk with your Principal Investigator or supervisor if you are working with any of the agents listed below. If you have a personal medical or occupational concern at any time, contact the Employee Health Center for a confidential medical consultation.
- Biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) agents
- Hepatitis B virus, human blood, or other infectious human materials
- Influenza virus
- Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB)
- Polio virus
- Rabies virus
- SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19)
- Vaccinia virus
- Zika virus
In general, serum from researchers is not collected and banked. In certain cases, serum collection and/or monitoring programs may be offered or required. The University conducts serum banking only when: (1) it is required by federal regulations or suggested by evidence-based occupational health practices standards; and (2) there is a plan to analyze the data as part of a risk assessment strategy. Refer to the Serum Banking Policy for research and support staff for more information.
The Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Medical Safety Screening assures the safety of UW employees who may be exposed to the MR magnet. Submission of a screening form is required prior to entry into an MR environment. See MRI Medical Screening for more information.
The Exposure Response Poster describes the actions you need to follow in the event of a possible exposure to a hazardous or biological agent. If you experience an exposure, immediately perform first aid, call for medical help, and then report the incident to EH&S.