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Occupational Health Program and Allergies

Faculty, students and research support personnel who are required to come into contact with animals under an approved animal use protocol, whether for research, teaching or demonstration must participate in the occupational health program for animal workers. This requires completion of a targeted, confidential medical history questionnaire, which is reviewed by the Occupational Health Department. Follow up phone call(s), office visits or referrals are coordinated as needed. An animal use protocol is not approved until the principle investigator has OCD clearance.

Full-time animal care staff are required to have a complete physical examination by the Occupational Health Department BEFORE starting work. Additional requirements for full time workers include the provision of work and protective clothing, including safety shoes, training in work-place hazards including zoonotic diseases, and special testing and vaccination and monitoring procedures depending on the species of animals the employee is expected to work with.

Additional questions or concerns can be addressed to the Occupational Health Department.


Among many other considerations, allergies to animals have become an increasingly more important health concern for individuals working with animals. It is very important to report any allergy symptoms occurring with exposure to animals promptly in order to help prevent acute, life-threatening reactions and avoid chronic lung problems.

We have been very successful in working with individuals' personal family physicians and allergists to help keep them safe and at work. Only very rarely will allergies or other medical problems become so severe as to require a significant change in work. There are many strategies and preventive techniques that can be implemented to accommodate individual susceptibilities or symptoms. These may include working in a well-ventilated area, donning of gloves, masks and lab coats or reassignment to work with a different animal species.

Rutgers University is committed to working with its employees and students to protect their health and well being while working within the University and we will make every effort to accommodate individuals with animal allergies.

Individuals who develop allergies to animals should not hesitate to call the Rutgers Occupational Health Office. For additional information on Animal Allergies see Q & A on Allergies to Animals.