NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search

Health hazard evaluation report: evaluation of zoonotic disease and exposures in persons working with marine mammals.

Gibbins J; Niemeier RT; de Perio MA; Mueller C
Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, HETA 2011-0105-3173, 2013 Apr; :1-31
The HHE Program evaluated potential exposure of employees and volunteers to zoonotic diseases at a marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation center. Zoonotic diseases are those that can be transmitted from animals to humans. Investigators with the HHE Program observed work practices and personal protective equipment use and found that some practices may lead to a higher risk of exposure to zoonotic diseases. Employees and volunteers were given a survey and blood tests to look for evidence of past infection. Among the 213 participants, little evidence was found of past infection with the organisms that cause leptospirosis, brucellosis, or Q fever. Air, surface, and bulk dust samples were collected for C. burnetti, the bacterium that causes Q fever; all but one of 130 samples was negative. A ventilation assessment showed that the biological safety cabinet in the laboratory did not have enough airflow so investigators recommended that the employer have this cabinet certified yearly and ensure that it meets minimum flow requirements. Investigators also found that when the harbor seal area ventilation system was turned on air flowed from the intensive care unit to other areas of the building. Investigators recommended that harbor seal pups not be housed in the intensive care unit if they are suspected of having Q fever. Instead they should be housed outside and isolated from other harbor seal pups. Investigators recommended that the carpet in the triage building be removed and replaced with a nonporous surface. Investigators noted that some employees and volunteers were not wearing the correct personal protective equipment and recommended that the employer provide initial training and refresher training for all employees and volunteers on hand washing, proper personal protective equipment use, and the risk of infection. Employees were encouraged to (1) wash their hands after exposure to animals or animal areas even if they were wearing gloves, (2) not wear personal protective equipment in areas where people eat or drink, (3) report signs of possible zoonotic infection to their supervisor, and (4) to tell their healthcare provider about their duties and exposures to marine mammals. The employer was encouraged to post signs about hand washing.
Region-9; Zoonoses; Work-practices; Personal-protective-equipment; Bacteria; Bacterial-dusts; Bacterial-disease; Bacterial-infections; Ventilation; Ventilation-systems; Training; Gloves; Respiratory-system-disorders; Author Keywords: Environment, Conservation and Wildlife Organizations; marine mammal; seal; sea lion; leptospirosis; brucellosis; Q fever; rehabilitation; rescue; Coxiella burnetii; Leptospira spp.; Brucella spp.; zoonotic infection; zoonoses
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Hazard Evaluation and Technical Assistance
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
HETA-2011-0105-3173; B20130520
NIOSH Division
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: September 4, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division