Health hazard evaluation report: HETA 2001-0273; 2001-0274; 2001-0275; 2001-0407-3091, care of non-human primates, New Iberia, Louisiana; San Antonio, Texas; Davis, California; Covington, Louisiana.
On December 26, 2000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) received a $25,000 grant from the Elizabeth R. Griffin Research Foundation to evaluate risks for acquiring zoonotic disease among those who work with non-human primates (NHPs) in research settings. NIOSH evaluated worker perceptions, attitudes, and general knowledge about safety and health policies and work practices. We made workplace observations and distributed questionnaires at the California Regional Primate Research Center at the University of California, in Davis, California, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in New Iberia, Louisiana, the Southwest Foundation Regional Primate Research Center in San Antonio, Texas, and the Tulane Regional Primate Research Center in Covington, Louisiana. The voluntary, confidential questionnaire was offered to all primate center employees who worked with or near NHPs, and/or their waste, body fluids, and tissues. Among the four facilities, 476 questionnaires were completed. From the questionnaire, we determined that a number of work tasks (e.g., giving injections to NHPs) were associated with certain exposure incidents (being bitten, scratched, stuck with needles, etc.). We also found that although employees were aware that most of these incidents were a potential health risk and warranted reporting, actual reporting of the incident to a supervisor or health clinic did not occur. For example, being scratched or cut by dirty equipment or a NHP were among the most commonly occurring incidents, yet this was one of the incidents most commonly not reported to the supervisor. On a percentage basis, being splashed in the eyes, mouth, or nose with NHP secretions was the type of incident most commonly not reported to the supervisor (28 of 69 incidents not reported, 41%). In terms of total numbers, being scratched by an NHP was the most common incident not reported (39 of 129 incidents not reported). The most common choice addressing why the incident was not reported was "did not think it serious enough to report," chosen by 55 (73%). Though much less frequent, some employees reported they were afraid to report exposure incidents. Employees were asked to report whether or not they received training on eight specific topics prior to working with NHPs, including infectious disease risk, response and reporting, and safety procedures. While responses were positive to most types of appropriate training (typically greater than 90%), positive responses to training in the proper use of bite and scratch kits and respirator training were much lower (e.g., 19% for bite and scratch kits and 37% for respirator training). Only 77 (66%) of employees at the Tulane facility reported receiving refresher training. Most groups of employees reported experiencing exposure incidents; however, there was variability in reporting rates among workers in the various job groups. Although all employees should be included in appropriate training/education activities, more specific (and possibly more frequent) training/education activities should be focused on those employees with more direct contact with NHPs (such as caretakers). Recognition (by those responsible for health and safety at the NHP facility) that exposure incidents are occurring requires a reliable mechanism for systematic reporting. Recognition and rapid response to these events is important to ensure all necessary medical actions are taken promptly, and that appropriate measures are instituted to prevent future occurrences.
Region-6; Region-9; Zoonoses; Laboratory-animals; Laboratory-workers; Work-practices; Humans; Questionnaires; Epidemiology; Statistical-analysis; Infectious-diseases; Infection-control; Protective-clothing; Protective-equipment; Personal-protective-equipment; Personal-protection;
Author Keywords: Research and Development in the Physical, Engineering and Life Sciences; Non-human primate; macaque; biosafety; biomedical laboratory; bite; scratch; needle stick; B virus; zoonotic disease