Investigator and staff handbook laboratory animal program

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IACUC MEMBER TRAINING: IACUC members are urged to attend an IACUC 101 Workshop.
IACUC COORDINATOR: Karen Rowland, ORDA, Mail Code 4709, C214 Woody Hall - phone: (618) 453-4533; e-mail
B. Roles and Responsibilities of the IACUC
IACUC responsibilities include:

  • Semi-annual animal care and use program review

  • Semi-annual animal facilities inspections

  • Investigating concerns involving the care and use of animals

  • Making recommendations to the Institutional Official (J. Koropchak) regarding the animal program, facilities, and public relations

  • Ensuring humane and appropriate care of animals through review of Institutional Animal Care and Use protocols

  • Suspending activities not being conducted in accordance with the approved protocol description

  • Ensuring participation in the Occupational Health Program of all personnel involved in animal activities

A major function of the IACUC is the review of protocols involving the use of vertebrate animals for research or teaching. The IACUC maintains continuing oversight of the approved projects, which includes semi-annual inspections of laboratories. Also, the IACUC ensures that the LAP is in compliance with federal regulations through semi-annual program reviews and facilities inspections. The results of these reviews form the basis for the required annual reporting to AAALAC, OLAW and USDA. As part of its charge, the IACUC is expected to report any noncompliance issues to the Institutional Official or oversight agencies.

C. IACUC Policies
1. Humane Endpoints
Legal regulations and moral guidelines require that animal pain, distress, discomfort and suffering be minimized in any experiment. Conditions or procedures that cause more than momentary or slight pain/distress must be performed with appropriate sedation, analgesia, or anesthesia. Discomfort to animals must be limited to that which is unavoidable for the conduct of scientifically valuable research, and unrelieved pain and/or distress can continue only for the duration necessary to accomplish the scientific objectives.
Research procedures involving unrelieved pain or distress may receive consideration for approval by providing appropriate scientific justification in the Animal Care and Use Protocol. The justification must describe how administration of pain relieving agents would interfere with the scientific objectives of the study, and must also be supported by scientific literature. Humane endpoints other than death must always be considered and should be used whenever the research objective can be attained with non­-lethal endpoints. Ideally, humane endpoints are sought that can be used to end studies before the onset of pain and/or distress. Research proposals utilizing animal death as an experimental endpoint may also receive consideration for approval by providing appropriate scientific justification on the Animal Care and Use Protocol. The justification should describe why an alternative endpoint to death would not be appropriate for the scientific objectives of the study, and should indicate the number of animals involved, and how it was determined the proposed number of animals is the minimum possible to achieve the goals of the study.
Humane endpoints are defined as the criteria used to end experimental studies earlier in order to avoid or terminate unrelieved pain and/or distress, while ensuring that study objectives are met even though the study is ended at an earlier point. Investigators are expected to make a good faith effort to justify their endpoints, or agree to treat or euthanize animals found moribund or with irreversible, painful or distressful conditions.
If pain or distress is anticipated, a detailed plan for when and how these conditions will be alleviated should be provided on the Animal Care and Use Protocol. The plan should include detailed written criteria for the humane endpoints that will be used to determine when animals can be removed from the study, treated, or euthanized. There should be clear directions concerning who can make the decision to euthanize or treat animals, including procedures to follow if a situation arises on weekends, holidays, or in the absence of the Principal Investigator.
Animals should be observed frequently enough to detect signs of impending death so they can be euthanized in a timely manner. Animals not likely to survive until the next scheduled observation should normally be euthanized. In situations where animals are often found dead, closer and more frequent observation should be considered to reduce spontaneous deaths. Investigators are encouraged to euthanize animals that have irreversible, painful, or distressful clinical conditions if experimental validity will not be compromised. Animals that would otherwise suffer severe or chronic pain and distress that cannot be relieved should be painlessly euthanized at the end of the procedure or, if appropriate, during the procedure.
Clinical signs/symptoms for which euthanasia is warranted if animals are unable to be treated effectively:

  • Paralysis, paresis, or other impaired ambulation impeding normal activities (e.g. eating, drinking, urination, defecation)

  • Extreme weakness (e.g. inability to remain upright, lack of righting reflex)

  • Skin ulcerations that are:

    • greater than >20% of the body surface area

    • full skin thickness with exposure of underlying tissue

  • Neoplasms that:

    • exceed >10% of normal body weight

    • are ulcerated, necrotic or infected

    • impede normal activities (e.g. ambulation, eating, drinking, breathing, urination, defecation)

  • Decrease of 4-6°C in body temperature in rodents

  • Prolonged recumbence or inability to ambulate (cannot reach food or water)

  • Weight loss of >20% of normal body weight

  • CNS signs (e.g., circling, convulsions)

  • Pain that cannot be alleviated despite administration of analgesics

  • Inability to eat, drink, urinate, or defecate normally

  • Labored breathing (dyspnea)

  • Prolapsed penis or rectum

  • Limb or spinal fractures

  • Septicemia

NOTE: The Principal Investigator must consider alternatives to procedures that may cause more than momentary or slight pain or distress to the animals. A database search is the primary means of meeting this requirement. The search needs to be documented in the protocol and must provide:

  • The name of the databases searched

  • The date the search was performed

  • Key words and/or search strategy used

2. Animal Analgesia
Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage. A painful stimulus normally prompts a withdrawal or evasive action. Pain is a stressor and, if not relieved, can lead to unacceptable levels of stress and distress in animals. The ability to experience and respond to pain is widespread in the animal kingdom. In general, unless the contrary is known or established, it should be assumed that procedures that cause pain in humans, are damaging or potentially damaging to tissue or elicits withdrawal or evasive action, also cause pain in animals.
Legal and ethical obligations require minimizing the discomfort, distress, and pain in research or teaching animals to that which is unavoidable. Principal Investigators must seek the least painful techniques feasible that will allow the protocol objective(s) to be pursued adequately.
Painful procedures, as applied to research or teaching animals at SIUC, are any procedures that would reasonably be expected to cause more than slight or momentary pain or distress in a human being to which that procedure was applied (Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals), e.g., pain in excess of that caused by injections or other similar minor procedures. If a procedure will cause more than momentary slight pain or distress to the animal, the pain should be minimized both in intensity and duration through the administration of appropriate analgesics consistent with acceptable standards of veterinary medicine. It should be emphasized that the requirement for the alleviation/reduction of pain applies not only at the time the procedure is being conducted, but also following the procedure until such time as the pain is either alleviated or reduced to an acceptable tolerance level. If pain cannot be alleviated or reduced to an acceptable level while using analgesics, the animal(s) should be euthanized. If a procedure has associated pain, discomfort, or distress, it is imperative that the investigator estimate the probable occurrence, magnitude, and duration of the pain, discomfort, or distress in order to adequately plan for the treatment of pain.
It is essential that personnel caring for and using animals be very familiar with species-specific clinical signs of discomfort in order to assess and monitor pain and distress. In some circumstances, physiological or biochemical parameters (e.g., plasma cortisol, catecholamines, white blood cell counts, and cardiovascular parameters) may be used, in addition to clinical signs, for assessment of well-being.
The selection of analgesics should be appropriate for the species involved and the dose, frequency, and duration of treatment must be appropriate for the type, severity, and duration of pain or discomfort without compromising the scientific aspects of the animal procedures. Some classes of drugs, such as sedatives, anxiolytics, and neuromuscular blocking agents, do not have analgesic properties and thus do not relieve pain. In no case should animals be under the influence of a neuromuscular blocking agent without being fully anesthetized and mechanically ventilated.
When possible, it is preferable to administer analgesics prior to the noxious insult, which is referred to as preemptive analgesia. Preemptive analgesia may reduce the severity or delay the onset of pain greater than that achieved with the same regiment initiated after the procedure. Some analgesic agents may be administered orally via gavage or mixing with the animal's drinking water. If administered via the animal's drinking water, the drug should be placed in the water at least 2 days prior to the procedure to allow time for the animal to become acclimated to the altered taste of the water. This preparatory step is necessary to avoid having animals electing not to drink following the procedure due to the change in the water's taste and therefore resulting in inadequate analgesia. Water bottles containing analgesics should be changed at least twice a week.
It is recognized that in certain animal procedures the administration of analgesics can compromise the scientific validity of the experiment. If withholding analgesics as part of these proposed procedures, the Principal Investigator must provide scientific justification on the Animal Care and Use Protocol to the IACUC, and obtain IACUC approval before commencing the procedure. The justification should be supported by literature references or data acquired from pilot studies. The justification should describe why all classes of analgesics are incompatible with the proposal objective and, when applicable, specific animal endpoints ensuring that the length of time animals may experience unrelieved pain or distress is the minimum possible.
3. Physical Restraint
Physical restraint of animals is defined as manual or mechanical limitation of some or all of an animal's normal movement. Prolonged physical restraint of animals is defined by Southern Illinois University's IACUC as any physical restraint of animals for a period of 30 minutes or more. All physical restraint methods proposed for animals must be described on the Animal Care and Use Protocol form and be approved by the IACUC before use. Proposals involving prolonged physical restraint of animals must also include a referenced scientific justification describing why it is necessary to perform prolonged physical restraint in order to meet the objectives of the proposed study.
Guidelines for Physically Restraining Animals:

  • Restraint devices are not to be considered as normal methods of housing.

  • Restraint devices must not be used simply as a convenience in handling or managing animals.

  • The period of restraint must be the minimum required to accomplish the research objectives.

  • Prolonged restraint, of 30 minutes or more, must be avoided unless it is essential for achieving research objectives and is approved by the IACUC.

  • Animals to be placed in restraint devices should be trained to adapt to the equipment and personnel.

  • Provisions should be made for observation of the animal at appropriate intervals during the restraint period.

  • Restraint devices should be suitable in size, design, and operation to minimize discomfort or injury to the animal. Veterinary care should be provided if lesions or illnesses associated with restraint are observed. The presence of lesions, illness, or severe behavioral change often necessitates temporary or permanent removal of the animal from restraint.

  • Less restrictive systems that do not limit an animal's ability to make normal postural adjustments should be used when compatible with protocol objectives.

  • Restraint devices should be designed to accomplish research goals that are impossible or impractical to accomplish by other means or to prevent injury to animals or personnel.

4. Animal Surgery
Surgical procedures are classified as survival vs. non-survival and as major vs. minor. In survival surgery, animals recover from anesthesia following the procedure, while in non-survival procedures the animals are euthanized before recovery from anesthesia. Major surgical procedures penetrate or expose a body cavity, or have the potential to produce substantial impairment of physical or physiologic functions. Minor survival procedures do not expose a body cavity and cause little or no physical impairment.
Multiple major survival surgical procedures on a single animal are discouraged, but may be considered for approval by providing appropriate scientific justification on the Animal Care and Use Protocol. The justification should describe why multiple major survival surgical procedures on a single animal are necessary to meet the scientific objectives of the study. Cost saving alone is not an adequate reason for performing multiple major survival surgical procedures in an individual animal. Multiple major survival surgical procedures also must not be performed on any animal as part of different proposals. Animals that undergo emergency major operative procedures as part of veterinary care, however, may still be used in a proposal that requires a major survival operative procedure. Animals surviving a major operative procedure must be identified to prevent their use in a second major survival operative procedure.
All surgical procedures performed on animals should be performed by or under the supervision of an appropriately trained individual with experience in the respective technique(s). It is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator to ensure that appropriate training has been provided. When possible, newly received animals should be acclimated to their pre- and post-surgical housing for 5 days before performing surgery.
All rodent surgeries must be performed in areas, such as laboratories, that are able to be sanitized and are free of unnecessary items. During surgeries, activities unrelated to the surgical procedure are discouraged in the vicinity of the operative procedure to minimize the occurrence of aerosol contamination of the surgical site.
In general, non-rodent mammalian surgeries should be conducted only in surgical facilities dedicated to that purpose and should be operated and maintained under aseptic conditions unless an exception is specifically justified as an essential component of the research protocol and approved by the IACUC. Operative procedures conducted at field sites need not be performed in dedicated facilities, but must be performed using aseptic procedures whenever possible. Emergency situations may require immediate surgical intervention under less than ideal conditions when movement to a surgical facility poses an unacceptable risk to the animal or is impractical. When such situations arise, every effort should be made to perform the procedure in as sanitary and aseptic a manner as is reasonably possible.
The functional components of a dedicated surgery suite include areas for surgical support, animal preparation, surgeon's scrub, operating room (OR), and postoperative recovery. The non-surgical support areas should be separated from the operating room by physical barriers. The interior surfaces should be constructed of materials that are monolithic and impervious to moisture. Ventilation systems should provide positive pressure in the operating room relative to adjacent areas. Surgical facilities should be maintained and operated in a manner that ensures cleanliness and minimizes unnecessary traffic. In circumstances where it is necessary to use an operating room for other purposes, it is imperative that the room be returned to an appropriate level of cleanliness before its use for aseptic surgery.
Pre-operative fasting for 6 - 12 hours may be necessary in some species to decrease the risk of aspiration during anesthesia or to help evacuate the gastrointestinal tract prior to its surgical manipulation. For survival surgical procedures of all species, the hair or fur should be removed from the surgical site, followed by disinfection of the skin. Attempts should be made to maintain the animal's normal body temperature by minimizing heat loss and/or providing supplemental heat as appropriate for the given species. Smaller species are particularly prone to hypothermia due to their large surface area to body mass ratio, allowing a greater loss of body heat. The animal's eyes should be protected against corneal drying and ulceration.
If non-survival major surgery is performed, the instruments and supplies must be clean, but do not have to be sterile. If survival surgery is performed, all instruments and supplies having contact with the surgical site or sterile field must be sterile.
For survival surgery in non-rodent species, a single set of sterilized instruments should be used only on one animal before re-sterilizing. Provided the instruments are handled appropriately and have not contacted non-­sterile surfaces, a single set of sterilized instruments may be used on up to 5 animals before the instruments must be re-sterilized when performing serial rodent surgeries.
When non-survival surgery is being performed on any animal, the surgeon must wear gloves, but the gloves do not have to be sterile. If survival surgery is being performed on rodents, the surgeon must wear sterile gloves. If a survival surgery is performed on a non-rodent species, the surgeon must wear a scrub suit, facemask and/or facial hair covering, hair covering, sterile gown, and sterile gloves.
During survival surgeries, aseptic techniques should be used to reduce the microbial contamination to the lowest possible practical level. Antibiotics should not be considered as a replacement for aseptic procedures and are not recommended to be given routinely following surgery. However, if a non-sterile part of an animal, such as the gastrointestinal tract, is to be surgically exposed or if a procedure is likely to cause immunosuppression, pre- and post-operative antibiotics may be appropriate. The surgical site should be closed in a manner acceptable by general veterinary standards. Silk or other braided suture material should not be used when closing skin incisions due to the potential for wicking bacteria-contaminated moisture into the surgical site. Surgical or other painful procedures should not be performed on unanesthetized animals paralyzed by chemical agents.
It is the responsibility of the investigative staff to monitor the animals during the anesthetic recovery period and each day during the post-operative clinical recovery period, including weekends and holidays. Animals should be recovered from anesthesia in a clean, dry, warm environment where they can be frequently observed by trained personnel, and separated from other animals not recovering from anesthesia. During anesthetic recovery, particular attention should be given to thermoregulation, cardiovascular and respiratory function, and postoperative pain or discomfort. If the anesthetic recovery period is prolonged, it may be necessary to rotate the animal approximately every 30 minutes from lateral recumbency on one side to lateral recumbency on the other side to avoid hypostatic congestion of the lungs. Animals can be returned to their cages/pens after they are able to ambulate relatively normally.
After anesthetic recovery, during the post-operative clinical recovery period, the necessary intensity of monitoring will vary with the species and the procedure performed. During this period, the animals should be assessed for signs of pain or discomfort and general well-being, and the surgical site monitored for normal healing progression and signs of post-surgical infection. Supportive care should be provided as needed. If the procedures produce, or are expected to produce, more than momentary or slight pain or distress to the animals, appropriate sedation, analgesia, or anesthesia should be administered unless it is specified in writing by the Principal Investigator on the Animal Care and Use Protocol to be contrary to the goals of the study for scientific reasons. Monitoring and supportive care normally continues for 7 to 10 days or until the skin sutures or staples are removed. Maintenance of records describing surgical procedures, anesthetic monitoring, post-operative observations and treatments are recommended. A Post-Operative Recovery Monitoring form is available on the IACUC website.

A. Laboratory Animal Program (LAP) Facilities and Procedures
1. Facilities
The Laboratory Animal Program maintains facilities accredited by AAALAC.
The LAP has animal facilities in the basement of Life Science II and on the first floor of Life Science III. The LS II area is a 5,442 square foot facility with 27 animal holding rooms. The LS III area is a 1,490 square foot facility with 11 animal holding rooms. Each facility has support areas that include storage space, procedure room, and cage-washing area. Both areas are secure facilities requiring access cards for the entry door and keys for each animal room.
a. Animal Rooms
The animal rooms have 100% fresh air intake and 100% exhaust with 10-15 air changes per hour. The temperature is maintained between 68° and 77° F. and the humidity between 30 and 70% RH. Fluorescent lights on automatic timers provide 12/12 light/dark cycle. With LAP approval, light cycles may be modified to meet the needs of the investigators.
b. Traffic Flow
Movement in the facilities should be from clean to dirty areas. Life Science III (LS III) has a central hallway for the movement of clean supplies into the animal rooms. Each room has a rear door that opens into a “dirty” hallway for movement of soiled supplies to the “dirty” side of the washroom area. Investigators are asked to place soiled supplies in the “dirty” hallways or “dirty” side of the washroom. The washrooms in both LS III and LS II have a clean and dirty side and movement between the two is discouraged.
Some animal room have tested positive for pathogens. Investigators and staff should not enter a non-pathogen room after being in a room that is posted pathogen positive. LS III is more pathogen free than LS II, so LS III should not be entered after being in LS II.

c. Documentation
Each room has an animal census form, usually located just outside the room. Any additions or removals (and not returning) should be recorded next to the appropriate date. Mice are counted by the box, not individual animal. A “w” should be placed next to weaning numbers. Detailed instructions are printed at the top the form. Animals taken to an investigator’s lab should be returned to the animal room within 12 hours.
d. Husbandry
The animal care staff services the animal rooms each day. Husbandry practices are based on guidelines in the NIH Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. The Guide can be found at the IACUC website or purchased through the LAP office.
2. Procedures and Policies
a. New Investigator/Staff Checklist
Prior to working with animals, please comply with the following:

  • Have an approved protocol

  • Complete the on-line training

  • Complete Occupational Health Program requirements

  • Be informed on the following items:

    • IACUC website

    • Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals

    • Vivarium security and access:

* Access cards and keys

* Personnel access: limited to individuals listed on an active protocol.

* No children under the age of 16.

* Special access for class groups and tours obtainable from LAP Director

    • Animal handling and safety: physical hazards, chemical and biological hazards, allergens; Environmental Health and Safety

    • Personal protective equipment: wearing gloves and masks while working with animals; appropriate attire; no open-toed shoes

    • Procedures: traffic flow, restricted areas, access to equipment and supplies

    • Forms: technical assistance, animal request forms, animal transfers; per diem sheets, health reports

    • Policies

* Eating, drinking, and smoking: not allowed in animal areas

* Photography: no photographs without permission from LAP Director or IACUC Chairperson

For facilities orientation see Ray Adams (Coordinator of Laboratory Animal Care) in LS III, Room 1067, Telephone 453-6454.
b. Personnel Access

LSII and LSIII are secure facilities requiring access cards for the entry door and keys for each animal room.

Access to the Life Science II and Life Science III animal housing facilities is limited to authorized personnel in the following categories:

  • Individuals identified on an approved Animal Care and Use Protocol as participating in animal research or teaching procedures

  • LAP personnel

  • Individuals participating in tours or inspections approved by either the IACUC or the Director of the LAP

  • Authorized SIUC personnel (i.e., Plant and Service Operations, Center for Environmental Health and Safety, Department of Public Safety)

  • Emergency Safety Personnel (i.e., fire department, ambulance service, etc.)

Children less than 16 years of age are not permitted in the animal housing facilities unless part of one of the categories listed above. An access card for entry into the respective animal research facilities and a key for entry into specific animal housing rooms may be obtained at the LAP office in Life Science III, Room 1062. Authorized SIUC personnel should contact a member of the LAP prior to entering the animal housing facilities to ensure that procedures for preventing the spread of infectious disease are observed.

c. Animal Procurement
All animals housed in the vivarium must be ordered through the LAP office. Inbred, outbred, hybrid, transgenic, or mutant rodents and rabbits are available from many commercial sources. The LAP personnel are familiar with many of the commonly available strains and will assist in locating animals available for purchase. In most situations, animals ordered by Friday 12:00 pm will arrive the following week. The animals will then be placed in quarantine for 10 days before they are released for experimental usage.
To order animals, the Principal Investigator or his/her designee must provide a completed Vivarium Request Form to the LAP office. (Blank copies of the Vivarium Request Form are available in the LAP office in Life Science Ill, Room 1062.)
Ensuring the following information is accurate and up to date will avoid delays in processing the animal order:

  • The Vivarium Request Form is signed by the fiscal officer/delegate of the account to be charged.

  • The correct, approved protocol number, and title and account number and title are included on the submitted Vivarium Request Form.

  • The animal order does not exceed the maximum number of animals planned for use on the Animal Care and Use Protocol.

  • Annual animal use protocol re-evaluation is current.

No animals should be ordered on one protocol and then used on another.

d. Animal Transfers
No animals should be transferred from one investigator, protocol, or account to another without completion of an Animal Transfer Form (available at the IACUC Website) and approval from the LAP Coordinator or Director.
e. Technical Assistance
Technical assistance in support of animal research projects is available through the LAP. Forms for requesting assistance are available online at or from the LAP office in Life Science III, Room 1062. Completed forms should be returned to the LAP office. Questions regarding services available should be directed to either the Coordinator of Laboratory Animal Care or the LAP Director.
f. Breeding
Investigators with breeding colonies are required to:

  1. Have an approved breeding protocol

  2. Maintain breeding records

  3. Record weanings on the room census form

  4. Avoid overcrowding by weaning on a timely basis

When investigators use animals before weaning, the LAP office must be told the number of animals used. This facilitates correct animal reporting for IACUC purposes.

B. Vivarium Charges
See the IACUC website for current vivarium charges.

C. Animal Health Care
1. Observation
Some of the following paragraphs were taken from either The Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, the University of Virginia’s web-based training from the Department of Comparative Medicine, or Pathology of Laboratory Rodents & Rabbits, second edition, Percy, Dean H., Barthold, Stephen W., Iowa State University Press, 2001.
Animals are observed daily by the animal care staff and, in certain cases, the research personnel. Any signs of illness, distress, or other abnormalities are recorded on an “Animal Health Report” and the cage is labeled with a dated “red dot” (“yellow dot” indicates overcrowding in a cage). The Coordinator of Laboratory Animal Care reviews the health reports and may pass them on to the veterinarian. The veterinarian may consult with the investigator regarding treatment. The research personnel should report any health care observations to the animal care staff.

2. Dead Animals
The animal care staff will remove dead animals from the cage, bag them, and note the death on the cage card. A Research Animal Death Notice is completed using information from the cage card. The bagged carcass with an identification tag is placed in a storage refrigerator (room 28A in LSII or the south hallway of LSIII). The LAP office will notify the investigator of the death, and copies of the paperwork will follow in Campus Mail. Those carcasses not picked up within three days will be transferred to a freezer.
3. Health Surveillance
Sentinel animals are maintained in animal housing rooms for the purpose of detecting adventitious rodent pathogens. Female SD rats and female ICR mice from Harlan Laboratories are used as sentinels. Two animals per room are housed in a convention cage with micro-isolator lid and placed on the bottom shelve of an animal rack. If any aspect of the Health Surveillance Program conflicts with the needs of a study, the investigator may request that the LAP use alternative methods of health surveillance.
If pathogen(s) are identified, a sign is posted on the animal room door indicating the pathogen involved and providing instructions to personnel entering the room to prohibit or minimize spread to other animal housing rooms. If animal housing rooms of different health status are to be entered on the same day, the uninfected room should be entered first, followed by the infected room.
Rodents that are moved out of the animal room to another room in the building can be transported in their cages after removing or repositioning the water bottles to prevent spillage. It is recommended that a drape be placed over the cages to darken the cages and minimize arousal of the rodents during transport. Rodents should not be transported out of doors or by vehicles unless prior IACUC approval is received.

A. Medical History Form

See “Occupational Health Program” on page 10 of this handbook for details.

B. Reporting Injuries or Illnesses
Any injury or hazardous exposure arising out of and in the course of employment must be reported at once to your immediate supervisor. Reporting of all accidents to the supervisor is necessary and must be prompt and accurate in order to ensure proper handling of the situation. It is the responsibility of the supervisor to make certain a "Report of Incident/Hazard" is filed with the Center for Environmental Health and Safety within 24 hours of becoming aware of an incident or hazard related to facilities or operations. The Center for Environmental Health and Safety will in turn distribute copies to appropriate offices.

C. Personal Hygiene
A number of personal hygiene issues and laboratory practices apply to all workers who are exposed to animals:

  • There should be no eating, drinking, smoking, or applying of cosmetics in areas where animals are housed or used.

  • Gloves should be worn at all times for the handling of animals, their fluids, tissues, or excreta. All contaminated or infected substances should be handled in such a way as to minimize aerosols.

  • Clean laboratory coats over street clothes or dedicated work uniforms should be worn when working with animals.

  • Additional precautions are necessary for a number of specific hazardous agents. If infected material is being used in a laboratory, then specific guidelines should be followed for the handling of these biologically sensitive materials.

  • All work surfaces should be decontaminated daily and after any spill of animal-related material.

  • Careful hand-washing should be done after handling animals and prior to leaving the laboratory for any reason.

  • Certain infections are transmitted from animals to humans, primarily by the animals' feces or urine entering a human's body by mouth. It cannot be stressed too much that every precaution should be taken to avoid this mode of transmission by alertness and very careful personal hygiene.

D. Animal Bites and Scratches
Bites and scratches are potential hazards associated with research animal contact. These may be prevented or minimized through proper training in animal-handling technique.
Several factors need to be considered when working with animals. Animals respond to sounds and smells in the same manner as people. They also hear, smell, and react to things that people might not detect. These reactions can produce injury to an animal handler. Many animals have a "flight zone”: approaches by another animal or a person cause an attempt to escape. Being aware of an animal's flight zone will help avoid injuries. Many animals are social and show visible signs of distress if isolated from others of their kind. Knowledge of species-specific animal behavior is important in reducing risks.
Animal bites, especially those by rodents that inflict little tissue damage, are sometimes considered inconsequential by personnel who are unfamiliar with the host of diseases that can spread by this mechanism. Serious complications can result from wound contamination by the normal oral flora of the animals involved. Personnel should maintain current tetanus immunizations, seek prompt medical review of wounds, and initiate veterinary evaluation of the animal involved, if warranted. Hantavirus infection, tularemia, and rat-bite fever are among the specific diseases that can be transmitted by rodent bites.
E. Handling of Sharps
Sharps are ubiquitous in animal care. Needles, broken glass, syringes, pipettes, and scalpels are all commonly used in animal facilities and laboratories. Puncture-resistant and leak-proof containers for sharps should be available at critical locations in the facilities. Improper disposal of sharps with regular trash may expose other animal researchers, animal care personnel, and custodial staff to wounds and, potentially, to infectious agents and hazardous chemicals. SIUC’s policies and procedures on the proper disposal of "sharps" may be found at the website of the office of the Center for Environmental Health and Safety.
Basic rules to remember:

  • Never recap needles after use - have a "sharps" disposal container nearby.

  • Dispose of syringes, needles, glass, vials, and scalpels in a "sharps" disposal container only.

  • If you cut yourself, perform first aid immediately. Report the incident to your supervisor. If you can safely identify the source of your injury, do so.

F. Allergies to Animals
Allergic reactions to animals are among the most common conditions that adversely affect the health of workers involved in the care and use of animals in research. Three-fourths of all institutions with laboratory animals have personnel with allergic symptoms relating to animal exposure. Approximately 10% to 44% of regularly exposed animal care workers develop some sort of allergic symptoms with an estimated 10% of the laboratory workers eventually developing occupation-related asthma.
Animal allergies are most often manifested by nasal symptoms, itchy eyes or rashes, and usually evolve over a period of 1-2 years. Allergies can be manifested in a number of ways, including: sneezing and nasal discharge; irritation and tearing of the eyes; skin welts, hives, or itching; asthma; or in rare instances, anaphylaxis. Most of the reactions are of the allergic rhinitis and allergic conjunctivitis type. Less than half of these will actually be asthma. People who have a prior personal history or family history of asthma, hay fever, or eczema will be more likely to develop asthma after contact with animals. But these people do not seem any more likely to develop rhinitis and conjunctivitis than do people without such personal or family history. Because of this, it is necessary that everyone exercise certain precautions to attempt to prevent animal allergy. These attempts should not be focused only on people with atopic history. Symptoms can develop anywhere from months to years after a person begins working with animals. A majority of the individuals who are going to develop symptoms will do so within the first year. Allergies can become more serious over time with repeated exposure.
Certain procedures should be routinely followed in order to prevent the development of animal allergy. Animals should be housed, as well as manipulated and/or handled, in extremely well ventilated areas to prevent build-up of animal allergens. Workers should always wear gloves and laboratory coats to prevent direct exposure to the animals, animal urine, and animal dander. Frequent hand washing is important. In order to prevent the inhalation of contaminated material, cages should be changed frequently, and masks should be worn during the changing of cages.
Despite adherence to preventive techniques, some individuals will develop allergies after contact with laboratory animals. Rarely will this be so severe that people are forced to change their line of work. More commonly, this can be controlled with the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) while working with animals. The use of gloves, laboratory coats, masks, eyewear, and other types of protective clothing that are worn only in animal rooms is encouraged. Once a person develops allergic symptoms, disposable surgical masks are usually ineffective. Some commercial dust respirators can exclude up to 98% of mouse urinary allergens. High-efficiency respirators are most likely to be of value, but they are cumbersome, and often are not used appropriately. Employees using effective respiratory protection (respirators) will need respiratory fit-testing and medical clearance. Certainly, anyone with symptoms related to animal exposure should seek medical diagnosis and treatment.
G. Zoonosis
Zoonoses are diseases of animals that may be transmitted to humans. Zoonotic disease transmission from commercial source animals is uncommon due to availability of high-quality animals. Wild caught species may be potential zoonotic disease hazards depending on the species used and the activities involved.
1. Hantavirus (Hemorrhagic Fever with Renal Syndrome, Nephropathia endemica)
Hantaviruses, which can cause severe hemorrhagic disease, are widely distributed in nature among wild-rodent reservoirs. The severity of the disease produced depends on the strain involved. Outbreaks of hantavirus infection characterized by a severe pulmonary syndrome resulting in numerous deaths have been recognized in the southwestern U.S.
Transmission of hantavirus infection is by aerosols. Extremely brief exposure times (five minutes) have resulted in human infection. Rodents shed the virus in their respiratory secretions, saliva, urine, and feces for many months. Transmission of the infection can also occur by animal bite, or when dried materials contaminated with rodent excreta are disturbed, allowing wound contamination, conjunctival exposure, or ingestion to occur. Person-to-person transmission apparently is not a feature of hantavirus infection.
Human hantavirus infections can be prevented through the use of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), and elimination of infected rodents and rodent tissues before they are introduced into the resident vivarium animal populations.
2. Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus
Human infection with lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCM) associated with laboratory animal and/or pet contact has been recorded. LCM is widely distributed among wild mice throughout most of the world. Many rodent species are infected naturally, including mice, hamsters, and guinea pigs, however the mouse has remained the primary concern. Athymic, severe-combined-immunodeficiency (SCID), and other immunodeficient mice can pose a special risk by harboring silent, chronic infections, which present a hazard to personnel.
The LCM virus can be present in blood, cerebrospinal fluid, urine, nasopharyngeal secretions, feces, and tissues of infected hosts. Bedding material and other fomites contaminated by LCM-infected animals are potential sources of infection, as are infected ectoparasites. In endemically infected mouse and hamster colonies, the virus is transmitted in utero or early in the neonatal period, and produces a tolerant infection characterized by chronic viremia and viruria, without marked clinical disease. LCM virus may also contaminate tumors and cell lines. Humans can be infected by parental inoculation, inhalation, and contamination of mucous membranes or broken skin with infectious tissues or fluids from infected animals. During pregnancy, there is risk of infecting the fetus.
Humans develop an influenza-like illness characterized by fever, muscle pain, headache, and malaise after an incubation period of 1-3 weeks. In severe cases of the disease, patients might develop meningoencephalitis. Central nervous system involvement has resulted in several deaths. Preventing this disease from becoming established in resident vivarium animal populations can be achieved by vigilantly screening all tumors and cell lines before they are introduced into animals and serological surveillance. Occurrences of the virus have been reported in institutions having high rodent tumor transplant programs.
3. Tetanus
Tetanus (lockjaw) is an acute, often fatal disease caused by the toxin of the tetanus bacillus. The bacterium usually enters the body in spore form, often through a puncture wound contaminated with soil, street dust, or animal feces, or through lacerations, burns, and trivial or unnoticed wounds. The Public Health Service Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends immunization against tetanus every 10 years. Every employee participating in activities involving research or teaching animals must be current on tetanus immunization.

4. Rat-Bite Fever
Rite-bite fever is caused by either Streptobacillus moniliformis or Spirillum minor, two microorganisms that are present in the nasopharynx of rats. Most human cases result from a bite wound inoculated with nasopharyngeal secretions. Infected humans may develop chills, fever, malaise, headache, and muscle pain, and then a rash most evident on the extremities. Proper animal handling techniques and the use of personal protective equipment minimizes the potential for acquiring rat-bite fever.
5. Leptospirosis
Rats, mice, field moles, hedgehogs, squirrels, gerbils, and hamsters are among the animals that are considered reservoir hosts. Leptospires are shed in the urine of reservoir animals, which often remain asymptomatic. Transmission occurs through abraded skin or mucous membranes, and is often related to direct contact with urine or tissues of infected animals. Inhalation of infectious aerosols and ingestion of urine-contaminated materials are effective modes of transmissions. Manifestations of this disease are diverse, ranging from inapparent infection to severe systemic illness. Common features are fever, muscle pain, headache, and chills.
6. Plague
Plague is caused by Yersinia pestis. The disease exists primarily in wild rodents in the western one-third of the United States. Most cases are the result of bites by infected fleas or contact with infected rodents. Human plague has a localized (bubonic) form and a septicemic form. In bubonic plague, patients have fever and large, swollen, inflamed, and tender lymph nodes, which can suppurate. The bubonic form can progress to septicemic plague, with spread of the organism to diverse parts of the body, including lungs and meninges. The development of secondary pneumonic plague is of special importance because aerosol droplets can serve as a source of primary pneumonic or pharyngeal plague, creating a potential for epidemic disease.
Preventive measures include controlling access of wild rodents and ectoparasite treatment of incoming animals with potential infection. Personnel working with potentially infected animals should protect themselves from ectoparasites and don appropriate personnel protective equipment.
7. Ringworm
Many species of animals are susceptible to fungi that cause the skin condition known as ringworm. The skin lesion usually spreads in a circular manner from the original point of infection, giving rise to the term "ringworm". Dermatophyte spores can become widely disseminated and persistent in the environment, contaminating bedding, equipment, dust, surfaces, and air. In humans, the condition usually consists of itchy scaly patches with broken hair shafts. The lesions are often times on the hands or arms, but can potentially be found anywhere. Protective clothing, disposable gloves, and washing of hands following animal or animal equipment handling minimizes the chance of occurrence.

Because the ultimate responsibility for compliance with regulations that affect the care and use of animals lies with the Principal Investigator and his/her staff, it is important that all individuals working with research animals have a basic working knowledge of the regulatory requirements. The following information is meant to provide a brief synopsis of the current regulations involving research or teaching animals at SIUC.
Regulations are discussed under two broad general headings (Involuntary and Voluntary). Involuntary regulations can be defined as those required by law or set forth as a condition of funding. Voluntary regulations can be defined as those that an institution adheres to as part of its overall commitment to research and academic excellence.

  • Animal Welfare Act (AWA)

  • Public Health Service on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals


  • Accreditation by AAALAC

Animal Welfare Act
The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) starting in 1966 and its amendments are mandatory regulations covering the transportation, purchase, sale, housing, care, handling, and treatment of animals used in research and teaching, for exhibition, and sold by commercial enterprises as pets. The AWA specifically includes dogs, cats, guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits, nonhuman primates, and marine mammals. It also includes any other warm-blooded animal that is being used or is intended for use for research, teaching, testing, experimentation, or exhibition purposes. Excluded are birds, rats of the genus Rattus, mice of the genus Mus, farm animals used or intended for use as food or fiber, or livestock or poultry used or intended for use for improving animal nutrition, breeding, management, or production efficiency, or for improving the quality of food or fiber.
The IACUC is responsible for reviewing all protocols using animals to make certain the protocols meet the criteria listed in the AWA and its policies. In addition, the IACUC must conduct semiannual inspections of all animal study areas and animal facilities. Responsibility for administering the AWA was delegated within the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to the Administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Research facilities are subject to unannounced inspections by USDA personnel and are required to furnish annual reports. Noncompliance with USDA standards for the humane handling, treatment, and transportation of covered species can lead to civil or criminal prosecution resulting in substantial fines and/or suspension of animal research activities.
Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals
The Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals requires institutions to establish and maintain proper measures to ensure the appropriate care and use of all animals involved in or intended for use in research, research training, and biological testing activities conducted or supported by the Public Health Service. The PHS policy covers all live, vertebrate animals and endorses the "U.S. Government Principles for the Utilization and Care of Vertebrate Animals Used in Testing, Research, and Training" (below).
The policy requires institutional animal care and use committees to review and approve those sections of PHS grant applications relating to the care and use of animals before merit reviews by the PHS will be conducted. The committee is also required to conduct semiannual assessments of the institution's program based on the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. Significant deficiencies in the institution's program must be identified by the committee, and the institution must adhere to an approved plan and schedule for correction of those deficiencies. An institution's failure to comply with these policies may lead to various actions, including termination of PHS support for all projects involving animals at the institution.
U.S. Government Principles for the Utilization and Care of Vertebrate Animals

Used in Testing, Research, and Training
The development of knowledge necessary for the improvement of the health and well-being of humans as well as other animals requires in vivo experimentation with a wide variety of animal species. Whenever U.S. Government agencies develop requirements for testing, research, or training procedures involving the use of vertebrate animals, the following principles shall be considered, and whenever these agencies actually perform or sponsor such procedures, the responsible Institutional Official shall ensure that these principles are adhered to:

  1. The transportation, care, and use of animals should be in accordance with the Animal Welfare Act and other applicable Federal laws, guidelines, and policies.

  2. Procedures involving animals should be designed and performed with due consideration of their relevance to human or animal health, the advancement of knowledge, or the good of society.

  3. The animals selected for a procedure should be of an appropriate species and quality and the minimum number required to obtain valid results. Methods such as mathematical models, computer simulation, and in vitro biological systems should be considered.

  4. Proper use of animals, including the avoidance or minimization of discomfort, distress, and pain when consistent with sound scientific practices, is imperative. Unless the contrary is established, investigators should consider that procedures that cause pain or distress in human beings may cause pain or distress in other animals.

  5. Procedures with animals that may cause more than momentary or slight pain or distress should be performed with appropriate sedation, analgesia, or anesthesia. Surgical or other painful procedures should not be performed on unanesthetized animals paralyzed by chemical agents.

  6. Animals that would otherwise suffer severe or chronic pain or distress that cannot be relieved should be painlessly killed at the end of the procedure or, if appropriate, during the procedure.

  7. The living conditions of animals should be appropriate for their species and contribute to their health and comfort. Normally, the housing, feeding, and care of all animals used for biomedical purposes must be directed by a veterinarian or other scientist trained and experienced in the proper care, handling, and use of the species being maintained or studied. In any case, veterinary care shall be provided as indicated.

  8. Investigators and other personnel shall be appropriately qualified and experienced for conducting procedures on living animals. Adequate arrangements shall be made for their in-service training, including the proper and humane care and use of laboratory animals.

  9. Where exceptions are required in relation to the provisions of these Principles, the decisions should not rest with the investigators directly concerned but should be made, with due regard to Principle II, by an appropriate review group such as an institutional animal care and use committee. Such exceptions should not be made solely for the purposes of teaching or demonstration.

Association for Assessment and Accreditation

of Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALAC)
The Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALAC) is a voluntary organization and makes recommendations based on results of site visits and program reviews. The standards of this peer review process are continually upgraded to reflect current knowledge in laboratory animal medicine and science. Unlike the Animal Welfare Act or the Public Health Service Policy, AAALAC reviews the quality of animal care of vertebrate animals. SIUC has maintained accreditation since 1973. AAALAC is a nonprofit organization established by scientific and educational organizations to ensure high standards of laboratory animal care and use.
AAALAC standards follow the guidelines set forth in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals in determining whether or not accreditation should be granted. If there are agricultural animals used at the institution, the Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Agricultural Research and Teaching is used as the standards for evaluating the program. Accredited facilities are required to submit annual reports on the status of their animal facilities, and announced accreditation visits are conducted every three years. The NIH, in its current policies, accepts AAALAC accreditation as the best means of demonstrating conformance with NIH requirements for animal care and use. Should deficiencies be identified in a previously accredited program, the institution is either granted a defined period in which to make specified changes or, if the deficiencies are major, accreditation could be withdrawn.


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