Researcher Bitten by Mouse Infected with Coxsackie B Virus

What Happened?

A researcher was working in a Biosafety Cabinet in the vivarium procedure room with mice that had been previously injected with a patient isolate of coxsackie B virus. The researcher was sedating each mouse with a nose cone and collected stool and blood samples for analysis. The researcher was training a student on the procedures and stated that since he was explaining and performing the procedure at the same time, he was distracted. As the researcher was preparing to sedate the next mouse, the mouse turned its head and bit into the researcher’s index finger. The researcher was wearing a single pair of gloves, disposable gown, hair net, surgical mask, and shoe covers. After being bitten, the researcher removed the glove and replaced it with a new glove. He completed the experiment and then washed his hands. The researcher stated that about 40 minutes to 1 hour had elapsed between the bite and when he washed his hands. The researcher did not seek medical attention until the following day. He went to Occupational Health and Safety Facility where the injury was evaluated.

What Was The Cause?

Distraction while performing the task contributed to this accident.

What Corrective Actions Were Taken?

  • The researcher was asked to submit an SOP for handling animals infected with coxsackie virus including PPE, emergency and incident response procedures. The SOP was provided to all lab members. Written SOPs facilitate training of new personnel.
  • The researcher was advised of the additional PPE requirements for working in an animal biocontainment facility. The following PPE is required: double gloves, disposable gown, hair net, surgical mask, and shoe covers.
  • The researcher was also advised to immediately wash the infected area according to standard procedure and to seek medical attention immediately.
  • DLAM discussed possible alternatives for handling the animals and alternative engineering controls for sedation. Larger diameter tubing for a sedation chamber will be tested to determine if this results in a safer and more efficient way of sedating the mice.

How Can Incidents Like This Be Prevented?

  • Perform training procedures on non-infected mice; procedures on infected mice should be done with no/minimal talking to minimize distraction.



When injured by an animal:

  1. Expose the wound
  2. Express the wound
  3. Flush the wound under running water for 5 min while expressing
  4. Cover the wound and seek medical attention
  5. Report the incident to your supervisor


Coxsackie B Virus

  • Human pathogenic enterovirus
  • Hand-foot-and-mouth disease
  • Causes gastrointestinal distress
  • Can cause pericarditis, myocarditis, and meningitis
  • Incubation period 3-35 days