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Notice to Readers: Occupational Safety and Health in the Care and Use of Nonhuman Primates

In 1997, the National Research Council Institute for Laboratory Animal Research (NRCILAR) published the first guide for the management of an Occupational Health and Safety Program (OHSP) for the care and use of laboratory animals (1). This report provided a broad reference foundation for the development of an institutional OHSP. The care and use of nonhuman primates in the research setting presents challenges to facility management, including the need for guidance in risk assessment and management of specific hazards. The same year this report was published, a splash to the eye unassociated with injury resulted in the Cercopithecine herpesvirus 1 infection and subsequent death of a research assistant at a primate research center (2,3). Limited reviews of policies and procedures related to working with nonhuman primates conducted by CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) at various National Primate Research Centers in response to this incident identified an absence of accepted industry-wide standards for management of such occupational hazards.

The Committee on Occupational Health and Safety in the Care and Use of Nonhuman Primates was appointed by NRCILAR in response to a request from the National Institutes of Health, CDC, and the Food and Drug Administration to address the risks associated with occupational exposure to nonhuman primates and to suggest ways of minimizing these risks. In June 2003, the committee published "Occupational Safety and Health in the Care and Use of Non-Human Primates." This report complements the previous publication and expands on topics particularly relevant to facilities in which nonhuman primates are housed or where nonhuman primate blood or tissues are used. The report is available at http://www.nap.edu/catalog/10713.html.

The report describes the hazards associated with work involving nonhuman primates and discusses the components of a successful OHSP, including hazard identification, risk assessment, applicable safety regulations, risk management, and personnel training. It emphasizes the importance of a strong institutional commitment to an OHSP (4). Topics include techniques for assessing the degree of risk for those hazards, options for managing those risks, worker training, and personal protective equipment; institutional management of workers after suspected exposures; and examples of safety and health programs in both large and small nonhuman primate facilities. The book is intended as a reference for vivarium managers, veterinarians, researchers, safety professionals, and any other persons involved in developing or implementing an OHSP in settings with nonhuman primates (4). It should be informative for a wide audience, including animal handlers, infectious disease physicians, public health and other researchers, and persons occupationally exposed to nonhuman primates or their biologic materials. Combined with the previous NRC publication and other guidance (1,4,5), these reports provide the basis for industry-wide standards for occupational health and safety in the nonhuman primate field.

References

  1. National Research Council. Occupational Health and Safety in the Care and Use of Research Animals. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1997.
  2. CDC. Fatal Cercopithecine herpesvirus 1 (B Virus) infection following a mucocutaneous exposure and interim recommendations for worker protection. MMWR 1998;47:1073--6,1083.
  3. CDC. HID-5---Cercopithecine herpesvirus 1 (B Virus) Infection Resulting from Ocular Exposure. Atlanta, Georgia: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC, 1999. Available at http://www.cdc. gov/niosh/hid5.html.
  4. National Research Council. Occupational Health and Safety in the Care and Use of Nonhuman Primates. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2003.
  5. Cohen JI, Davenport DS, Stewart JA, et al. Recommendations for prevention of and therapy for exposure to B virus (Cercopithecine herpesvirus 1). Clin Infect Dis 2002;35:1191--203.

Use of trade names and commercial sources is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


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