Working with laboratory animals carries several risks. Apart from the obvious physical hazards of bites and scratches, animal research often involves biological hazards that exist because animals can serve as natural reservoirs for infectious diseases (including zoonoses), hosts in studies of pathogenic microorganisms, and sources of allergens. These hazards can affect not only laboratory personnel, but also other laboratory animals, including valuable breeding stocks. Infectious diseases that remain unnoticed can introduce unwanted variables into research projects and render research results invalid.
Experimentation, whether with animals or not, usually involves a degree of chemical danger. In the animal laboratory and care room, potentially hazardous chemicals may be found in disinfectants, cleaning agents, pesticides and as feed and bedding contaminants.
Diseases transmitted to man from animals are termed zoonotic diseases. While laboratory workers can be exposed to either natural or induced animal infections, the former seems to be the more...