In brief: Science ASSIST does not recommend practical activities examining cow manure be performed in the school science laboratory.
School laboratories designated specifically for science practical activities are usually, but not always constructed to PC1 standard. School science laboratories do not have suitable containment facilities for examination of cow manure. Risks to students and staff include zoonotic diseases from unknown microorganisms (bacteria and viruses) and parasites1.
A Physical Containment Level 1 (PC1) laboratory is a classification given to laboratories with certain physical structures that enable the safe handling of material likely to contain microorganisms that are classified as Risk Group 1 microorganisms. "Physical containment is the term used to describe procedures and structures designed to reduce or prevent the release of viable organisms into the outside environment."2
Further, s4.3.2 states:
“The organisms used should generally be classified as Risk Group 1” 2
Only risk group 1 microorganisms from a trusted source should be used in a PC1 laboratory. Cow manure should not be handled in the school science laboratory as the facilities are inadequate to safely handle the unknown and potentially pathogenic microorganisms.
Biological samples collected from cattle may contain zoonotic diseases. These are diseases that can be transmitted from animals and their environments to humans3. Zoonotic diseases can be spread by indirect contact with animal faeces and bodily fluids or aerosols.
The most notable zoonotic diseases from cattle manure is Q fever. Transmission is by inhalation of dust that can be contaminated with faeces3 and cause flu-like symptoms that can be treated with antibiotics4. Q fever is a notifiable disease.
1 ‘Pathogens and Potential Risks Related to Livestock or Poultry Manure’. eXtension Foundation website http://articles.extension.org/pages/8967/pathogens-and-potential-risks-related-to-livestock-or-poultry-manure (Accessed October 2016)
2 This extract from AS/NSZ 2243.3:2005, Safety in laboratories, Part 3: Microbiological safety and containment is reproduced with permission from SAI Global Ltd under Licence 1407-c117
3 S.A. Health. 2015. Animal contact guidelines. Reducing the risk of illness associated with animal contact, SA Health website, http://www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/e0947b00492e1a49ac0afd9006... (accessed October 2016)
4 Health and Safety Fact Sheet Q fever in the School Environment’, Qld Department of Education, http://education.qld.gov.au/health/pdfs/healthsafety/factsheet-qfever.pdf (February 2014)
‘Animal health and diseases’, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries website,
https://www.daf.qld.gov.au/business-priorities/animal-industries/animal-health-and-diseases (Accessed October 2016)
‘Animal Industries’, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries website,
https://www.daf.qld.gov.au/business-priorities/animal-industries (Accessed October 2016)
‘Health and Safety Fact Sheet Q fever in the School Environment’, Qld Department of Education, http://education.qld.gov.au/health/pdfs/healthsafety/factsheet-qfever.pdf (February 2014)
National Health and Medical Research Council. 2013. Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes 8th Edition’, NHMRC website, https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/ea28_code_care_use_animals_131209.pdf (Accessed October 2016)
SA Health. 2015. Animal contact guidelines. Reducing the risk of illness associated with animal contact, SA Health website, http://www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/e0947b00492e1a49ac0afd9006...