Copyright 2008 University of Minnesota Board of Regents.
The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator
Preventative Medicine Programs
Preventative medicine is one of the most
important aspect of RAR's veterinary service program. When diseases are
introduced into a concentrated housing area they can quickly spread causing
morbidity and having disastrous effects on research programs. Exclusion
of disease has proven time and again to be the most efficient method of
ensuring a healthy animal. Once a disease has been established it can be
difficult to eradicate. Treatments are often costly and aren't always effective.
They may present as significant of a research variable as does the disease
Cooperation with RAR's preventative
medicine programs is essential and scrupulous attention must be given to
procedures such as room entry requirements, traffic flow, and animal and
waste handling requirements.
Vendor Evaluation and Screening
RAR veterinarians establish health specifications
for all animals purchased by the University of Minnesota. These requirements
are negotiated into contracts or for individual animal purchases. Certain
vendors provide health screening reports from their facility. RAR veterinarians
may inspect certain vendor's operations. Incoming animals may be tested
or necropsied to screen against diseases that are being excluded from the
Incoming Animal Evaluation
All large animals and rabbits are examined
on arrival at RAR by a member of the veterinary staff. The examination
includes a health evaluation and a behavioral assessment. The order specifications
are verified and the investigator and area veterinarian are contacted if
any problems are found. Animals will also receive the treatments described
below. A special service fee will be assessed
for these and any additional procedures requested by investigators.
Large animals may not be used for experimental
procedures until 72 hours after entry into the facility and a one week acclimation period is recommended. This stabilization period is not required for
animals used acutely (anesthetized and euthanized at the end of
the procedure) although it is recommended. This provision is to allow the animal to acclimate to the
facility and reduce the chance of stress-induced disease, including anesthetic
Farm animals typically receive
an injection of a broad-spectrum antibiotic to control upper respiratory
infections that commonly occur after shipping. They are also vaccinated
and receive anti-parasitic treatment as described below.
Dogs and cats are vaccinated
and receive anti-parasitic treatment as described below.
Non-human primates are tested
for a variety of diseases and zoonoses, and receive anti-parasitic treatment
as described below.
Rodents and Non-Mammals
"Approved vendors" provide RAR with regular
animal health monitoring reports from their facilities. Before animals
from other sources (including other institutions) can be approved for shipping
to RAR, the supplier must provide certain health reports. These requirements
can be determined by consulting with an RAR veterinarian.
All animals received by RAR are visually
examined by the laboratory animal care staff when they are placed
into housing. The order specifications are verified and the investigator
and area veterinarian are contacted if any problems are found.
There is no specific acclimation requirement
for rodents and rabbits.
A one week acclimation period is recommended for all animals to prevent stress-induced disease.
If animals do not meet the health requirements required by RAR, investigators are given various options so they can receive their animals. Some vendors may provide the required testing or treatments. Typically the cost of this will be added to the purchase price of the animals. If space is available and the ability to test for or treat a disease of concern is available, RAR may arrange for quarantine in its facilities. Quarantine conditions and costs are normally arranged through the area veterinarian. For detailed rodent quarantine procedures click here.
Rodents coming from colonies with ecto- or edo-parasites will be quarantined.
Random source dogs and cats will be quarantined. They may be used acutely.
Non-human primates from most sources are quarantined for a minimum of 6 weeks.
Animals in quarantine are not available for experimental use.
Specific Pathogen-Free Housing
There are a number of infectious diseases in rodents and rabbits that are often subclinical. These diseases may become clinical secondary to experimental stressors, or the organisms may have specific effects on certain cell types and consequently affect research results. Because of this, animals have been developed that are free of these viruses and are called specific pathogen-free (SPF). Most commercially available rodents are SPF. Other animals may be available SPF. The definition of SPF is not standardized. Each institution must define its own set of "specific pathogens" to exclude.
Maintaining SPF animals requires specialized
housing and handling procedures. The organisms are extremely contagious
and any break in handling and housing procedures may result in a disease
Investigators using SPF rodents must
receive special training in handling procedures.
Microisolator cages must only be opened
in a laminar flow hood and should be handled like a sterile petri dish.
The outside is dirty, the inside sterile, and never the twain shall meet. Download a handout on Microisolator Technique HERE.
If the barrier is broken (cage left open,
animal escapes and contacts the floor, improper microisolator procedure,
etc.) within an animal room, the investigator should place a note
on the cage indicating how the break occurred. RAR will handle these
animals last. If the break occurs outside of the animal room the
animals must be euthanized or placed into quarantine
to assess their disease status before being allowed to return to the colony.
Animals that arrive in the facility with infectious diseases that are excluded
must also be quarantined until the diseases can be cleared.
Investigators must also separate any use
of conventional and SPF animals to prevent spread of disease. This means
not entering an SPF room within one day after having been in a conventional
rodent area, unless one has showered and completely changed clothes and shoes.
Animals that have been housed conventionally
may be rederived to be SPF. This may be accomplished by several methods.
Contact an RAR veterinarian for information on rederivation. The Cancer Center's Mouse Manipulative Genetics Laboratory offers rederivation services as a cooperative service with RAR.
Please contact a RAR veterinarian for advice on intra-building traffic routes between animal facilities and laboratories. RAR has established guidelines for flow
of foot traffic within its facilities. It is essential to follow these
guidelines to prevent the spread of disease throughout the facility
No one and no equipment may enter an SPF rodent room if they or the equipment have previously been in a conventional rodent housing area, unless personnel have showered and changed clothes and shoes and the equipment has been sanitized. (NO EXCEPTIONS)
Restricted access areas should not be
entered unless there is legitimate business in that area (i.e. they are
Certain rooms may be posted with notice
of a special pathogen status within the room. It is important to follow
the instructions on these postings, indicating protective clothing requirements
and which areas or species may be visited after room entry.
Health Maintenance: Testing, Vaccinations,
Rodents and Rabbits
The primary diseases excluded from RAR's
SPF rodent colonies include:
||Effects on Research
|Mouse hepatitis virus (MHV)
||Wasting and death in neonates or immunodeficient
||Immunomodulation, respiratory pathology
|Rat sialodacryoadenitis virus (SDAV)
||"Red tears", swelling in neck region,
||Immunomodulation, ocular pathology
|Pinworms and fur mites
||Fur mites- hair loss, scratching,
skin damage; Pinworms- no clincal disease
||Immune modulation, pinworms affect
GI physiology, fur mites cause skin pathology
SPF colonies are tested approximately
every 1-2 months for these organisms. RAR tests all colonies (including
conventional colonies) for these and other
organisms on an annual basis. These organisms may cause disease
under some circumstances and can affect research. Additional testing must
be requested from the area veterinarian. A service fee may be assessed.
Results of colony testing are available
through RAR. Investigators are notified if a new disease is discovered
in the colony. However, it is important for investigators to also be aware
of what is known to be endemic and what diseases are not screened.
Periodically, disease eradication efforts
may be undertaken in the animal colonies. Investigators are consulted prior
to initiation of treatment. The decision to eradicate a disease is usually
made based on effects on animals or research and current standards of laboratory
Rabbits may carry Pasteurella multocida.
This organism can cause upper respiratory infections ("Snuffles"), pneumonia
and other infections throughout the body. SPF rabbits are available and
must be housed away from other rabbits.
Nail, tooth and beak growth is monitored
on rabbits, large rodents and birds. These may be trimmed as needed. Investigators
are assessed a special service fee.
Dogs and Cats
Dogs and cats receive vaccinations and
antiparasitic treatment by the vendor or on entry into the facility, and
then annually. Other procedures may be requested by investigators. A special
service fee will be assessed.
Dogs are vaccinated against canine distemper,
canine adenovirus, parainfluenza virus and canine parvovirus
Cats are vaccinated against feline panleukopenia,
viral rhinotracheitis and calicivirus.
Dogs and cats receive a broad-spectrum
Dogs are tested for heartworm disease
only by request
Toenail growth is monitored. Nails are
trimmed as needed
Goats and sheep are vaccinated against
clostridial diseases and receive a broad-spectrum anthelminthic drug on
entry into the facilities. These may be repeated as necessary.
Other animals normally receive vaccination
and testing according to the requirements of the investigator.
Non-human primates have an extensive quarantine
and preventative medicine protocol. This is because of some of the unique
diseases they carry, the potential for transmission of these diseases to
humans and vice-versa. For these and other reasons, training
is required for handling of non-human primates.
Personnel must be protected from potential
non-human primate zoonoses. The basic precautions are biosafety level-2
type precautions. Details of the requirements for protective clothing and
procedures to be followed in case of bite or exposure to blood or body
fluids are presented during training.
All macaque monkeys (Rhesus, cynomolgus,
etc.) that are purchased are required to be seronegative for cercopithecine
herpesvirus 1 (Herpes B).
Upon entry, animals are quarantined for
6 weeks during which time they receive a complete physical exam, are tested
for tuberculosis, endoparasites Shigella and Salmonella,
a complete blood count and serum chemistry profile are performed, the animal's
nails are trimmed, the teeth cleaned, and the animal is tattooed if needed.
Every 6 months animals are tested for
tuberculosis, and their teeth are cleaned and nails trimmed.
Monitoring and Reporting
All animals in RAR's facilities are observed
daily by an animal care staff. Each area of the facility is also assigned
a veterinary technician and an Area Veterinarian. The veterinary staff
make regular rounds through the facility to observe the animals, their
housing conditions and husbandry procedures.
Reporting Animal Health Problems
RAR laboratory animal care staff can report animal health problems to the veterinary staff through an "Animal Health Report" card system.
Animal health problems may also be reported to the RAR office at 624-9100. If the phone is not picked up a message can be left, or the on-duty veterinarian can be paged at the Emergency Veterinary Pager, and this number is posted by the phones in all housing areas.
Animal health problems may also be reported to the RAR Veterinary Services office. A message may be left there. Alternatively, the emergency veterinarian can be paged. The numbers for the Veterinary Services Office and the Emergency Veterinary pager are posted next to the phones in all housing areas.
Any type of serious animal health problem
should be treated as an emergency. Any health
problem noted on a weekend or at the end of the day should be treated as
Animal health problems should not be
reported by leaving a voice mail message or e-mail with a veterinary technician
or veterinarian. These messages may not be picked up soon enough to respond appropriately.
Resolving Problems: Diagnosis, Treatment and Euthanasia
When an animal is experiencing a health problem, the resolution involves a team effort. The area veterinarian or veterinary technician will contact the investigator or their research staff to discuss the problem. Thus it is very important that labs maintain current emergency contact information for RAR veterinary staff to use when there is an animal issue. This information may be part of the cage card, listed as contact name/phone #/email, or it may be provided to the Area RAR staff to post and/or maintain. Since health problems may be discovered any day of the week, labs are encouraged to provide contact information for one or more people who are willing to be contacted on weekends and holidays.
If an animal health problem arises and the research staff cannot be contacted (and no other instructions have been provided), RAR veterinarians are required to use professional judgment on how to proceed. This may involve initiating treatment, palliative care, or euthanasia depending on the situation.
Mouse breeding programs sometimes result in situations where there are newborn pups whose dam has died. If the research staff cannot be contacted and have not left instructions on whether to proceed with an attempt at cross-fostering, RAR will euthanize the newborn litter in those situations..
If a problem is expected as part of
the experimental procedure the nature of the problem must be documented
in the Animal Care and Use Protocol form. The experimental endpoint and clinical or other
criteria for euthanasia of the animal must also be indicated. There must
be a scientific justification for allowing an animal to experience unrelieved
pain or distress. The veterinary staff will review the Animal Usage Form
whenever a new problem is seen.
If a problem occurs that is unexpected
the veterinarian will assist in developing a diagnosis and prognosis for
The veterinarian will discuss treatment
options with the investigator. Normally any animal health problem must
be treated or monitored until the animal meets criteria
Veterinary examinations and consultations
are not charged to investigators
can be performed on a fee-for-service basis
A sick animal may be selected for euthanasia
and necropsy to assist in the diagnosis
Investigators may provide their own drugs
and perform their own treatments under the direction of RAR. RAR can provide
the names of suppliers for common drugs and supplies.
Drugs can be purchased
RAR can perform
RAR will monitor the progress of all animals
and maintain a medical record of its observations and any treatments it
If an animal is not responding to treatment
the treatment plan will be re-assessed. Euthanasia may be requested.
Treatment can be directed toward correcting
the primary problem, or it may involve providing supportive
care or analgesia until the animal recovers,
is euthanized or reaches the experimental endpoint.
An animal should never be allowed to reach
a moribund state or die spontaneously unless it is an approved part of
Call 612-624-9100 for emergency care.
There is always an RAR veterinarian on call for animal health emergencies. An emergency is any problem that cannot wait at least overnight (on weekdays) or until the beginning of the next week (if found on holidays/weekends). This can include facility problems that are endangering the animals' health such as temperature or humidity extremes. Call 612-624-9100 for emergency care. If a receptionist is not available, the pager number of the on-duty veterinarian will be on the answering machine. The Emergency Veterinary Pager number is also listed by the phone in all housing areas.
Veterinary Special Services
Veterinary technicians are available by arrangement with RAR to perform some special services for investigators such as obtaining body fluids, administration of drugs including anesthetics and related procedures. These services are billed as time and materials. Please complete the RAR Technical Services Request or contact the Veterinary Services Office at 612-624-9100 for details.
RAR also has specific programs for:
- Testing of cell
lines for rodent pathogens
Rederivation services for production of
specific pathogen-free rodents is coordinated through the Mouse
Manipulative Genetics Laboratory in the Cancer Center (626-6971).
for in vitro experimentation
and pathology support
A limited number of veterinary pharmaceuticals
are available through RAR. Drugs stocked include antibiotics, anesthetics
and some miscellaneous drugs commonly used for procedures and care of research
animals. It is the responsibility of the investigator to obtain other drugs
that are primarily for experimental use. Controlled Substances must be
obtained as described by University policy. Call 624-9100 or 624-3166 for
ordering information. Contact an RAR veterinarian for other information
on drugs at 624-9100.
RAR's diagnostic laboratory can provide
a full range of laboratory services, including hematology, microbiology,
serum chemistry, serology and fluid analysis. Tests are either performed
in-house or are submitted to the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory or other commercial laboratory. All
tests are performed on a fee-for-service basis. Contact the RAR Diagnostic Laboratory at 612-624-3961 for details.
Laboratory Reference Values for Common Laboratory Species:
Samples may be submitted to RAR directly
to the laboratory on the Minneaoplis campus or to the RAR offices on the St Paul campus. Each sample must be
accompanied by a completed laboratory submission
Laboratory results are copied to the Area
Veterinarian and the person submitting the sample. The contact information
should be provided on the submission form. CBCs and chemistry profiles
are generally available on the next business day if submitted before 2 pm. Other tests
may take longer, depending on the type of test and where they are performed.
Any test may be ordered STAT. Microbiology submissions are often reported in stages.
A preliminary Gram stain and morphology may be available within a day.
Biochemical identification and antibiotic sensitivity may take several
days. Fungal cultures may take up to 2 weeks.
Necropsy Services Provided
Diagnostic: As part of RAR's animal health surveillance program, diagnostic necropsies may be performed on animals whose deaths cannot be attributed to experimental manipulation. In some instances, it may be necessary to euthanize animals for necropsy. For the latter, permission is sought from the investigator. A necropsy consists of a gross pathological examination. There is no charge for diagnostic necropsies. At the discretion of the Area Veterinarian histopathology or additional diagnostic tests may be ordered. A fee may be associated with these tests. Investigators should discuss the level of diagnosis they are interested in with the area veterinarian or pathologist when submitting animals for diagnostic necropsy and complete a Necropsy
Request Form. Arrangements should be made with the Area Veterinarian
if a large animal must be euthanized. Food and water must be available
to small animals left for necropsy. If RAR initiates the necropsy request
the investigator is not responsible for making these arrangements.
Research: If research data is needed from the necropsy, this service is provided by the pathologists at the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab (VDL). There are fees associated with this service, billed directly from the VDL. Contact the VDL pathologists at 612-625-8787 to discuss the data needed. Complete the
VDL’s Necropsy & Sample Submission form, download from http://www.vdl.umn.edu/formsandsupplies/index.htm , and submit it with the animal directly to the VDL. If RAR’s services
are needed for transportation, please contact your Area Veterinarian to
make arrangements for delivery. RAR charges a nominal fee for
The pathologist or Area Veterinarian will
contact the investigator to discuss preliminary findings within 1-2 business days of
the necropsy being performed. Final results will be available within 1
to 2 weeks, depending on the types of ancillary testing performed. A final
written report will be provided if requested by the investigator.
Consultation and Animal Model Development
Animal Model Development
RAR veterinarians should be an integral
part of the process of animal model development. Each protocol submitted
to the IACUC undergoes veterinary review. The veterinarian may provide
input on model selection, procedures, drugs and dosages, potential complications
and endpoints. Investigators should consider consultation with an RAR veterinarian
whenever developing a new model or changing to a model with which they
have not had direct experience. The veterinarian can provide input based
on other researchers who have used the model, can assist in answering questions
on the Animal Care and Use Protocol form and can help locate resources to help achieve
the research goals.
RAR has video and slide sets on basic
animal handling and procedures such as blood collection, anesthesia
and surgery. In addition, individual consultation or training sessions,
or wet labs may be scheduled.
Drugs and Dosages
Guidelines on drug usage are available
in RAR's formulary and through consultation
with an RAR
RAR Facility Orientation, Training and Access
- Initial RAR Clearance & Facility Access (for new staff)
- Application for U-Card Access to Additional RAR facilities (for changes needed after initial clearance above)
- RAR Training Registration Form for individual training sessions (blood collection, handling & restraint, gavage, etc.)
Initial RAR Clearance Overview
You’ll take RAR Orientation and complete a Facility Tour. If you are working with NHPs, you will complete NHP training (see below). If you are working in an SPF area, you will also complete Microisolator Techniques.
RAR Orientation – Offered Weekly (duration approx. 90 minutes)
You will be introduced to the general principles of the disease control practices used in the Research Animal Resources facilities. Facility traffic patterns and guidelines will be covered, along with procedures used in animal rooms. Many of RAR’s additional services for investigators will also be discussed.
Facility Tours – Most tours occur immediately after Orientation, others are offered weekly, and St. Paul tours are by appointment - call 612-624-9100 to inquire
You will have a tour around the facility you will be working in, and see the various rooms and equipment you will be using. You will also receive training in CO2 euthanasia for rodents.
Microisolator Technique Training - Offered Weekly
SPF rodent colonies at the University of Minnesota utilize the microisolator system of filtered cages to exclude organisms that can be detrimental to research, including mouse hepatitis virus, mouse parvovirus, rat Sendai virus and Mycoplasma pulmonis. These cages can only be opened under a laminar flow hood or biosafety cabinet using specific techniques.
Note: You must be logged in to your Google account to view training calendar.
Other Courses - Offered periodically and announced on the RAR-Talk listserv
In addition, RAR veterinary technical staff periodically offer hands on training on such topics as species specific blood collection techniques, animal handling, CO2 euthanasia, rodent gavage, techniques of asepsis for rodent surgery, suture techniques, and rodent anesthesia. Notices about these training sessions are posted on the rar-talk listserv.
Non-human Primate Training - Offered by appointment - call 612-624-9100 to inquire
non-human primates present a variety of challenges for human handlers. non-human primate behavior is extremely complex. Proper behavioral and handling techniques are essential to prevent excessive stress to the animal that can be manifested violently. In addition, because of the close phylogenetic relationship between human and non-human primates, a variety of diseases can be transmitted back and forth. To protect both the animal and the handler, as well as other humans the handler may contact, proper preventative protocols must be followed. These include semi-annual tuberculosis screening,
use of protective clothing and familiarity with procedures to follow in case of contact between non-human primate body fluids and exposed human tissue, such as by a bite or scratch, or an eye splash. Training in these biosafety procedures and in proper handling and behavioral techniques is required before non-human primates may be used.
Top of page
The information contained in this site is intended as
a reference for University of Minnesota investigators, and animal husbandry
and veterinary staff. Drug information and dosages are derived from a variety
of sources and do not necessarily guarantee safety or efficacy. Information
obtained through this site should not be relied upon as professional veterinary
advice. Any medications administered or procedures performed on animals
should only be performed by or under order of a qualified, licensed veterinarian.