Department of Public Health Sciences

Accidental injuries associated with nonhuman primate exposure at two regional primate research centers (USA): 1988-1993

bin Zakaria, M., N. W. Lerche, B. B. Chomel and P. H. Kass

Lab Anim Sci. 1996. 46(3):298-304.

Although occupationally acquired zoonoses of nonhuman primates have been well documented, the epidemiology of work-related injuries associated with occupational exposure to nonhuman primates has not been studied. To investigate such injuries, we retrospectively reviewed injury records at one regional primate research center and distributed a self-administered, anonymous questionnaire to at-risk personnel at two centers. Records of bite, animal-inflicted scratch, needlestick, cut, and mucous membrane exposure injuries were reviewed at one center for the 5-year period 1988 to 1993 to determine incidence and frequency of injuries and to identify possible risk factors. A total of 261 injuries were reported during this period, with an annual incidence for all injuries combined ranging from 43.5 to 65.5 injuries per 100,000 person workdays (pwd) at risk. For specific injuries the highest incidence was observed for animal-inflicted scratches and bites, with a rate of 82 and 81 per 100,000 pwd respectively. The job category Veterinary Resident was found to have the highest incidence for needlestick injuries (547 per 100,000 pwd), scratches (239 per 100,000 pwd), and cuts (171 per 100,000 pwd). The highest rates for bites were observed in the job categories Animal Health Technician and Animal Technician, with 171 and 150 per 100,000 pwd respectively; the category Staff Veterinarian had the highest rate of mucous membrane exposures (71 per 100,000 pwd). The frequency of all injuries was greatest in personnel employed 20 h per week of contact with nonhuman primates or contact with more than 50 nonhuman primates per week was associated with a significantly increased risk of bites, animal-inflicted scratches, needlesticks, and mucous membrane exposures. In addition, data analysis indicated that under-reporting of work-related injuries was high; 59% of scratches, 50% of mucous membrane exposures, 45% of cuts, 37% of bites, and 20% of needlestick injuries went unreported. Results of this study identify job categories with a high incidence of specific injuries, for which additional targeted training and prevention programs may be beneficial, as well as providing quantitative baseline data for evaluating the effectiveness of any new safety programs or practices.

Keywords: Accidents, Occupational/*statistics & numerical data, Animal, Animal Technicians, Attitude to Health, Bites and Stings/epidemiology, California/epidemiology, Housing, Animal/*statistics & numerical data, Human, Incidence, Laboratory Personnel, Needlestick Injuries/epidemiology, Occupational Diseases/*epidemiology, Primate Diseases/transmission, *Primates/microbiology, Questionnaires, Research Personnel, Retrospective Studies, Risk Factors, Skin/injuries, Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S., Wounds and Injuries, Wounds, Penetrating/*epidemiology, Zoonoses/transmission

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