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Aust Vet J. 2000 Sep;78(9):625-9.

Disease and injury among veterinarians.

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  • 1School of Public Health, Curtin University of Technology, Bentley, Western Australia.



To identify occupational causes of disease and injury in veterinarians and their staff.


A self-administered questionnaire was mailed to all of the 160 registered veterinary practices in Western Australia.


Injuries accounted for most workers' compensation claims over a 12-month period with 31% of respondents losing a total of 360 work days with a mean of 13.3 days whereas non-occupational diseases such as influenza accounted for 408 work days lost. Over a 10-year period, 71% of respondents had been injured. The major physical injuries were dog and cat bites, cat scratches, scalpel blade cuts and back injuries from lifting heavy animals. Exposure to chemicals such as flea rinses, formalin, glutaraldehyde, x-ray developers and gaseous anaesthetics were reported to cause headache, nausea and allergies. Thirty percent of respondents did not have extractor fans for scavenging waste anaesthetic gases. The study showed high use of radiography (94%) for diagnostic purposes with 24% of respondents believing radiation exposure is a major occupational health and safety issue. Stress, drug abuse, suicide and burglary were also reported. Despite a high awareness of zoonotic diseases, there were very few reports of these.


Injuries and other occupational hazards reported together with work days lost demonstrate a need for improving the working environment of veterinarians and their staff and the development of comprehensive health and safety programs.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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