Needlestick Injuries Common In Female Veterinarians, Study Finds

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Two out of every three female veterinarians have reported accidental needlestick wounds while they were on the job, according to a recent study.

The injured veterinarians reported side effects in 16.4 percent of the unintentional needlestick wounds, ranging from many cases of mild irritation to one miscarriage.

The study, published in a recent issue of Occupational Medicine, pointed out that veterinarians often use several of the same medications that are used by other physicians.

“One of the rationales for doing the study was the fact that some of the medications and exposures veterinarians might experience would be the same as health care workers who work with people, in terms of anesthetic gases, some of the drugs and X-rays,” said Jay Wilkins, co-author of the study and associate professor of public health at Ohio State University.

“We were motivated in large part by concern over possible problems for pregnant women,” Wilkins said. More than 70 percent of first-year veterinary students today are women, compared to just about 10 percent in 1970.

Wilkins and co-author Michael Bowman, a former graduate research associate in public health, surveyed 2,532 female veterinarians, asking how many times each had accidentally stuck themselves with a needle.

Respondents were asked what kinds of substances were injected and any resulting side effects. Vaccines were the most commonly injected substances, accounting for about half of the injections, followed by anesthetics, euthanasia drugs and antibiotics.

Almost 62 percent of the women reporting side effects felt mild irritation, pain, swelling and soreness surrounding the punctured area. Nearly 12 percent of the veterinarians experienced numbness and fewer than 4 percent had a bout of mild dizziness.

Severe side effects included nine cases of brucellosis, a bacterial i

Contact: Jay Wilkins
(614) 293-3897
Ohio State University

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