This morning I picked up a batch of freshly hatched broilers from the post office. When I bring them to the brooder, I dip each beak into the water to make sure they drink well, and I’m grateful that they were vaccinated against Marek’s disease in the hatchery.
Marek’s vaccine is usually given as a subcutaneous injection. I’m sure if I tried to graft these wobbly boys myself, I’d have more needles in my fingers than chickens.
Injections are standard procedures in animal husbandry, but they also carry certain risks. The Upper Midwestern Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (UMASH) at the University of Minnesota reports that more than 80 percent of livestock workers have accidentally stuck their syringes during routine injections.
Be aware that needles used to inject horses, cattle, sheep, or pigs may contain hair, dander, skin fragments, and possibly feces. This can lead to skin infections, one of the most common injuries after acupuncture.
Allergic reactions to organic substances on needles or injectables may also occur. If you are allergic to injectable products such as antibiotics, you may have a serious reaction. Sometimes acupuncture can cause deep tissue wounds severe enough to require medical attention.
In rare cases, a needle stick can be disastrous and result in serious injury or death. This is usually the result of medication. Tilmicosin (trade name Mycotil), used to treat respiratory problems in cattle, can be extremely harmful to humans even at very low doses. In 2016, an Iowa man died of cardiac arrest just hours after accidentally injecting Mikotil. The exact dose for injection is unknown, but may be less than 5 ml.
Other foods to watch out for include zilazine, a sedative that can cause coma, and injectable hormones that can cause spontaneous abortions in pregnant women. In addition, live vaccines such as the RB51 strain of Brucella abortus and the Jones disease vaccine can cause disease in humans.
Retractable and retractable cap needles are available, but the prevention of needle sticks is largely dependent on proper needle handling practices and stocking restrictions.
Drug injectors must work slowly and carefully. The needle must not be capped, as this exposes the capped hand at the end of the needle. Never keep a syringe or needle in your pocket, whether it has a cap or not.
After repeated use, the needle wears out and may bend. Don’t try to straighten it. Instead, throw away the needle and start over with a clean slate.
According to Dr. Jeff Bender, professor of veterinary health at the University of Minnesota, more than half of needle stick injuries actually occur after the injection or during needle handling. Never throw needles alone in the trash. Instead, provide a sharps container. You can buy them or just remake any hard plastic container with a lid. A jug for washing powder or a cat litter bucket with a small hole in the lid works well.
The second component of acupuncture is proper restraint of the animal. Technologies will obviously differ depending on the type and size.
Sudden movements of the animal, especially the head or neck, should be avoided, as many injections are given in the back of the neck or behind the ears.
Piglets can be held with slings or loops. They can also be wrapped around the leg with one hand and held tightly around the nose with the other hand. This requires a second person to administer the injection.
Cattle can be restrained with braces with reins and ropes or gutters with head gates.
Finally, make sure you are using the correct syringe and needle for the job. The choice of syringe will depend on whether the injection is intramuscular or subcutaneous.
The size of the needle depends on the size of the animal and the viscosity of the injection solution. For example, the Virginia Technical Department of Veterinary Medicine recommends using a 1/2-inch diameter needle from 16 to 18 gauge for pigs weighing up to 25 kg.
Using the correct needle also reduces the chance of needle breakage, which can be disastrous if left in the animal and subsequently found in the meat.
Proper vaccination and dosing schedules are critical to animal health and safety. Do not neglect your own safety when taking medication, take precautions so as not to get stuck!
Dr. Brandi Janssen is director of the Iowa Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (I-CASH) at the University of Iowa School of Public Health.
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Post time: Oct-13-2022