Policy Number: 2007-033-v
Policy Title: Disease Management of Laboratory Animals

Purpose: Surveillance, diagnosis, treatment, and control of disease are integral components of adequate veterinary care (Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animal Care, 1996). Subclinical microbial, particularly viral, infections can occur in barrier- and conventionally-maintained animals. Such infections can seriously compromise experimental protocols by inducing profound changes in immunologic, physiologic, neoplastic, and toxicologic responses in infected animals. Therefore, control and elimination of known pathogens is vital for good science, as well as the health and well being of research animals.

POLICY: To prevent, eradicate, or manage infectious disease, the following actions are necessary:

  • Animal health monitoring (e.g., serology, parasite examinations) will be performed under the direction of the research animal veterinarian.
  • Animals must be procured from veterinary-approved vendors. Animals from other sources may not enter UW animal facilities unless approved by a research animal veterinarian.
  • Cages or animals must be moved between animal rooms, labs, and/or facilities in accordance with research animal veterinarian-approved standard operating procedures.
  • Procedure areas (dedicated animal procedure rooms, laboratory space, or shared equipment) must be disinfected after each use or as appropriate.
  • Movement of personnel between facilities or between rooms within a facility must occur in such a manner as to prevent spread of disease.
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) must be appropriate for the animal species, facility, and disease status in the facility.
  • Animal housing assignment must be under direction of the research animal veterinarian for the purposes of biosecurity, disease prevention, and eradication.
  • Testing (e.g., by PCR, MAP testing, etc.) of cell lines, tumors from outside the animal room, hybridomas, sera, and other biologicals must be conducted before such materials are given to animals to prevent the introduction of disease into animal colonies.
  • All nonstandard feed, bedding, housing, and environmental enrichment (e.g., seeds, nonstandard diets, pine bedding, etc.) must be approved in an animal care and use protocol. A laboratory animal veterinarian must approve, in advance, appropriate preparation (autoclaving, gas sterilizing, etc.) for each of these materials before they come into contact with animals. Facility standard operating procedures are considered to define standard husbandry.
  • Regarding animal users and contact with non-University animals (e.g. pets): Random source animals do not undergo the rigorous screening for bacteria, viruses and especially parasites that can adversely affect or even ruin research. Investigators and facility managers should educate prospective employees during the interview process about the lab’s/facility’s policies on employee ownership of pets and contact with non-University animals.
  • All actions will be implemented so as to enhance the prospects of successful research outcomes.

Failure to follow these actions may result in suspension of animal use privileges, in order to protect valuable research resources.

See also Policy 2007-034, "Disease Management of Livestock in Teaching, Research and Outreach."

Author: J. Welter, RARC veterinary unit
ePublication Date: 8/3/2007; amended 2/6/2015