Guinea pigs are docile rodents that rarely, if
ever, inflict injuries. There are no significant zoonotic
diseases associated with guinea pigs. The major disease
potential of guinea pigs is allergy. However, many individuals
working with guinea pigs develop serious symptoms related
to allergic responses. Strict attention should be paid to
the protective clothing recommendations discussed below.
- Whenever possible, assign work involving direct
animal contact to personnel without pre-existing allergies
or respiratory conditions;
- Dust masks, gloves and long sleeved apparel should
be worn at all times when working with guinea pigs; whenever
there is a risk of aerosol transmission of an infectious
agent, approved respirator masks (e.g., Type N95 by 3M
company) should be worn instead of dust masks;
- Wash hands after handling animals;
- When seeking medical advice for any illness,
inform your physician that you work with guinea pigs.
the risk of exposure to allergens when guinea pigs are transported
to or used in laboratories, staff are advised to adhere
to the following practices:
- Perform procedures in a laminar flow hood whenever
- Do not wear protective clothing such as lab coats
outside of animal areas and laboratories;
- Keep transport carriers out of labs/offices/public
- Use disposable supplies whenever possible;
- Sanitize lab/surgical areas after animal work.
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RESPONSE TO INJURY
Guinea Pigs are docile animals. Bites
and scratches are rare. If injury does occur:
- Wash any injured site with soap and water for
at least 15 minutes;
- Control bleeding by applying direct pressure
with a sterile gauze or bandage;
- Cover wound with clean bandage (do not apply
ointment or spray);
- Seek advice from emergency room physician.
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Allergies to guinea pigs are common.
Exposure to guinea pigs has frequently been associated with occupational
asthma. About 10% of allergen activity is found on particles small
enough to penetrate into the lower respiratory tract. Guinea pig
urine appears to be the major source of allergen. Other allergenic
components are found in dander, fur and saliva.