Based on the species you are working with, you should be aware of the following potential health risks:
- Asthma and Allergy in Animal Handlers
- Bites and Scratches
- Ringworm (fungal infection)
- Preventing Asthma in Animal Handlers
What you should do
- Be knowledgeable about the potential for developing allergies and/or asthma due to animal handling – especially if you are already allergic. When seeking any medical advice for illness, inform your health care provider that you work with ferrets.
- Consider using an N95 respirator when working with ferrets. These respirators have been show to reduce the chance of developing animal allergies. In order to use a respirator, you must have a fit test through Environmental Health & Safety.
- Perform procedures in a laminar flow hood whenever possible. Minimize wearing protective clothing, such as lab coats, outside of animal areas. Use disposable supplies whenever possible. Sanitize laboratory work areas after animal work.
- Know proper handling techniques for ferrets. Proper ferret handling training is available through the Center for Comparative Medicine.
- Always wash your hands after coming in contact with ferrets or their saliva, urine, blood, feces, and or bedding materials. This is the primary method of preventing laboratory acquired infections associated with the use of ferrets – even if you use gloves.
- Merck Manual has a good general overview of using ferrets in the laboratory on their webpage.