Animal allergies are among the most common conditions that adversely affect the health of personnel involved in the care and use of animals in research. Allergies can be manifested as allergic rhinitis (characterized by runny nose and sneezing), asthma, or contact urticaria (hives).
Allergy to animals is particularly common in workers exposed to animals such as cats, rabbits, mice, rats, gerbils, and guinea pigs. Symptoms typically develop within the first year after a person begins working with animals, but may appear years later.
Certain procedures should be routinely followed in order to prevent the development of an animal allergy:
- Animals should be housed, manipulated, and/or handled in extremely well-ventilated areas
- Gloves and protective clothing should always be worn to prevent direct contact with animals, their urine, or dander (small particles of animal hair, feathers, or skin)
- In order to prevent the inhalation of contaminated material, cages should be changed frequently, and an EHS-approved respirator (N-95) should be worn when ventilation controls are not available
If you are experiencing any allergy symptoms that may be related to your contact with research animals, you should report this to your supervisor and then report to the Occupational Health Services Clinic on the Third Floor of the Med Inn Building during the clinic hours of 7:00 AM to 4:30 PM.
For more information, please review the Environment, Health & Safety Animal Handler Program. We also encourage you to download and post this Animal Allergy Concerns Sign in your work area.