Revised on
11/10/15 08:14am

Staying Healthy in the Vivarium

Wash Your Hands

Hand washing is the first line of defense against any disease. The most common way to contract a zoonotic (diseases that can be transmitted between animals and people) infection is to place the infectious material directly in your own mouth, eyes, or nose. Always wash your hands after handling an animal or anything that the animal has touched. Never smoke, drink, or eat in animal quarters or before washing your hands.

Wear Protective Clothing

Wear protective clothing when working with animals. For some, protective clothing will consist of a lab coat; for others it may be a dedicated set of work clothing. Protective clothing must be laundered either at the research facility or by a commercial laundry service. Never take dirty protective clothing home with you.

Use Personal Protective Equipment

Some types of work require personal protective equipment such as gloves, face shields, masks, respirators, etc. Always use this equipment where required, and follow your supervisor's instructions. EH&S can help you select the right equipment based on the work you do.

Seek Medical Attention Promptly

If you are injured on the job, you must promptly report the accident to your supervisor, even if it seems relatively minor. It is required that all animal bites be reported to your supervisor, and the level of care selected is based on the severity of the injury and the animal involved. Occupational Health Services is available to care for your work related injuries and illnesses.

Tell your physician you work with animals

Whenever you're ill, even if you're not certain that the illness is work related, always mention to your physician that you work with animals. Many zoonotic diseases have flu-like symptoms, and your physician needs this information to make an accurate diagnosis.

Get the Facts

All employees working with animals, significant biological agents or chemicals should receive training appropriate to the hazard. If there is something you don't understand, ask your supervisor. If your department would like training on zoonotic diseases or other occupational health issues, contact Environmental Health & Safety or Occupational Health Services.

The Supervisor's Role

The supervisor is responsible for teaching their employees what they need to know to perform their job safely and effectively, and every department should have an Injury & Illness Prevention Plan.

Emergency Preparedness

Every employee should know what to do in an emergency. Emergency phone numbers and evacuation plans should be posted in every department.