Occupational Health

Occupational Health Program for Animal Workers:

Humans and animals can share diseases.  The Occupational Health Program is preventative medicine for people at WFU who are exposed to animals in research or teaching.  The program 1) documents testing people for specific diseases, such as tuberculosis and measles, 2) vaccination against acquiring specific diseases, such as rabies and tetanus,  and 3) serum banking to verify the presence or absence of disease at a certain point in time.

For details by species see Occupational Health and Zoonotic Concerns When Using Laboratory Animals or Tissues

Table.  Program requirements differ depending upon the type of animal



Occupational Health Program

Allergy Survey



Measles, Mumps & Rubella


Serum Bank

Nonhuman Primates*


Dogs, Cats,** Ferrets, Bats

Small Animals (hamsters, Guinea Pigs), rodents (rats, mice), rabbits, fish, other farm animals, birds, cold-blooded vertebrates (reptiles, amphibians)


*TST testing occurs every 6 months for persons working with nonhuman primates because tuberculosis can be fatal to these animals.  Testing occurs annually for exposure to all other species.

**Female employees of child-bearing age will also have serum banked for toxoplasmosis titer.

Summary of Program Requirements:

Allergy Survey/Questionnaire

Persons working with animals can develop allergies to particular groups of animals even after years of exposure.  The annual questionnaire is designed to identify employees with these allergies.

Tuberculin Skin Test (TST)

All employees and visitors working with animals must document either a negative TST or normal chest radiograph to show no active signs of tuberculosis.  Some will need a two-step TST if they have not been tested recently; for more details see Occupational Health and Zoonotic Concerns When Using Laboratory Animals or Tissues  on pages 1-2.


Documentation of tetanus immunization must occur every 10 years for employees or visitors who will be exposed to any animal in research or teaching.

Measles, Mumps & Rubella (MMR)

An MMR screen is required of all new employees whether they will be exposed to animals or not.  It is also required for visitors who will be exposed to nonhuman primates. If immunity is not demonstrated, then immunization may be recommended.


Rabies vaccine will be offered to employees who work with dogs, cats, ferrets or bats.

Serum Bank

Blood samples will be collected from male and female employees who will be exposed to nonhuman primates or sheep, and female employees of child-bearing age who will be exposed to cats.

Unique Health Risks

For a more complete list by species, see Occupational Health and Zoonotic Concerns When Using Laboratory Animals or Tissues

Q-Fever (Coxiella bernetii)

Sheep and other ruminants are common hosts.  In humans the disease is much like the flu, although it can progress to serious illness in a small percentage of the population, particularly those with certain heart conditions or compromised immune systems.  Consult with Employee Health Services before working with these animals if you have these conditions.

Herpes B virus (herpesvirus simiae, Cercopithecine herpesvirus 1)

This virus is carried by nonhuman primates of the genus Macaca, which includes rhesus, cynomolgus, bonnet, pigtail and stumptail monkeys.  Risk is low with proper protective equipment and procedures but exposure can be fatal to humans.


Some diseases can be transmitted to a fetus. Of additional concern during pregnancy are disease carried by cats (Toxoplasmosis), ruminants (Q fever) and primates.

Confidentiality of Medical Records

The contents of these records are considered private health information and are protected under HIPAA regulations.  Any consultation with Employee Health Services staff about your health and working with animals is also confidential.   As a general rule results of your tests will not be shared; however, some additional persons including WFU IACUC staff will learn whether or not you have completed program requirements as part of their duties.  Information will be shared between the IACUC and Employee Health Services only on a case-specific, need-to-know basis.


We need your date of birth (DOB) and your full name to confirm your identity and to prevent us from putting the wrong information in your record.


IACUC: Miranda Moore, 336-716-3540, mlmoore@wakehealth.edu

Employee Health Services: Leina’ala Pinch, 336-713-4250, lpinch@wakehealth.edu

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Disclaimer: The information on this website is for general informational purposes only and SHOULD NOT be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice, evaluation or care from your physician or other qualified health care provider.