The National Pork Board (NBP) has some excellent information on worker safety that applies to women, and women who are pregnant. Many of the same type of drugs are used for reproductive purposes in swine and cattle. These drugs contain hormones that act on the reproductive system and some may have harmful effects on humans exposed to them. (See also “Practicing for Two”, Bovine Veterinarian, July/August 2009).
The reproductive hormones may disrupt women’s menstrual cycles, cause reproductive issues or even disrupt the normal course of a pregnancy. Prostaglandins can lead to the abortion of a sow’s pregnancy if there is an accidental exposure; they can also cause abortion in pregnant women. In addition to the reproductive hormones, there may be other products used in facilities that could potentially have a medical impact such as corticosteroids which are known to disrupt pregnancy in animals.
NPB suggests these precautions when handling drugs on the farm:
- Always wear impermeable gloves when working with drugs to protect your skin from contact.
- If the drug accidentally comes into contact with your skin, immediately wash the affected area with soap and water.
- Use correct injection techniques to minimize the possibility of a needle stick.
- Ensure proper restraint of the animal prior to injection.
- Ensure proper syringe adjustment.
- Ensure proper needle placement onto the syringe.
- Use properly cleaned needles and change needles often.
- Never attempt to straighten a bent needle!
- Never carry a loaded syringe in your pocket!
Read more about worker safety.