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Safe handling of deceased animals

If you are teaching anatomy or investigating a potential cause of death of an animal, it is important to remember that animals can have infectious diseases that can be transmitted to humans (zoonoses).

Animal studies may involve the dissection of deceased animals. It is important to be aware of how they are sourced, and the reason they died. Aborted and stillborn animals are often a sign of infection in the mother animal – diseases such as leptospirosis, Q fever, and specifically in pigs, Japanese encephalitis virus. These diseases are not reliably deactivated during freezing, storage or transport and can be transmitted to humans who are exposed to animal body fluids during examination.

If you are undertaking studies that involve the dissection of animals, it is important to:

  • know the source of the animals and how/why they died
  • provide PPE to prevent exposure to body fluids during examination
  • inform participants of the risks of examination
  • ensure hand hygiene and environmental cleaning processes are adequate (appropriate).

More information

Read more about the risk of diseases from animals.