Exposure to animals or animal products in the workplace can cause asthma and allergies. Steps which animal handlers should take to protect themselves from exposure to animals and animal products were listed. Approximately 2 million workers had jobs that require constant contact with animals or their products. Dander, hair, scales, fur, saliva, and body wastes contain powerful allergens that can cause both respiratory and skin disorders. Workers at risk included laboratory animal and veterinary technicians, researchers, veterinarians, and others who have prolonged, close association with animals or their secretions or excretions. Workers who handle animal products or associated materials such as bedding and feed also may be at risk. Three case reports were presented of workers affected by animal exposures, including a worker at a pharmaceutical company who prepared rats for experiments, a physician engaged in a research project involving rabbits, and a group of 38 students in training as laboratory technicians. NIOSH Recommendations for reducing exposure to animal allergens in the workplace and preventing animal induced asthma and allergies were discussed.
NIOSH, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Cincinnati, Ohio, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 97-116, 13 pages, 33 references