Animal Health and Veterinary Care

 

General

CMP provides environmentally controlled macro- and micro-environments for a variety of laboratory animals. Temperature, humidity, light cycles, space, food, water and bedding are all monitored and maintained within established parameters (NIH Guide, Animal Welfare Act, NRC) appropriate for the species. Sanitation schedules are established to ensure that cages are clean and ammonia levels are minimized.

Veterinary care is available for all animals 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Calls to the CMP administrative number (979.845.7433) made after hours, on weekends, and on holidays will be transferred to the on-duty supervisor’s phone.

Protection of Animal Health Status

A number of procedures are instituted into the CMP animal care program to help define, monitor, and control the health status of the animal populations housed within the CMP facilities. All animals to be housed at the CMP facilities must have their health status defined, either through a current animal vendor health report, or through specific testing requested by the CMP staff veterinarians. Specific-pathogen-free (SPF) animal populations are the primary animal populations housed at CMP. The acquisition of animals from sources other than CMP-approved vendors (refer to Animal Orders and Animal Vendors) can be achieved, but must be coordinated through the CMP veterinary staff.

Once animals are housed at a CMP facility, every effort is made to ensure that their health status is maintained or improved. This is done by:

  1. Housing - A careful housing strategy is used to isolate animal populations between species, vendors, investigators, and disease status.
  2. Protective cover clothing - Clean cover clothing is required by all personnel in animal housing and procedure rooms to prevent exposing animals to any contaminants that may be carried on personal clothing that has been exposed to pets or feral animals. Please refer to Required Cover Clothing.
  3. Controlling movement of animals - Animal procedure rooms are provided so that investigators may contain their animals within the CMP facilities. Movement of animals to laboratory areas in other buildings and returning the animals to the CMP facilities is discouraged. Such movement must be discussed with the CMP veterinary staff prior to transportation of animals to ensure maximal protection of animal health status.
  4. Use of microisolator lids for small animal transport - Transportation of small animals through CMP Laboratory Animal Resources and Research (LARR) hallways and outside of CMP LARR facilities requires containment of animals under a micro-isolator filter to minimize exposure to contaminants in the environment, the container must be secured or placed in a secondary container to prevent the lid coming off if accidentally dropped,  and covered with a drape or shroud if carried outside of the vivarium. Please refer to Transport or Shipment of Animals for additional information on transporting animals.
  5. Minimizing personnel in clean equipment areas - Only specified CMP personnel are allowed in the clean cage area to prevent any potential contamination of clean equipment prior to its transport into animal rooms.
  6. Identification and isolation of animals with health concerns - Animals that are identified as having a potential health problems are isolated. Handling of these animals by CMP and investigative staff should be done only after all other animals have been handled and all other procedures have been accomplished within the animal room. Animals arriving at the CMP facilities with health concerns that may cause potential dangers to other animals at the CMP facilities are housed and maintained under strict quarantine  procedures. Such procedures are developed on a case-by-case basis.
  7. Disinfection of animal use areas - Investigative and CMP staff are requested to clean and disinfect animal procedure rooms before and after all procedure use. Prior cleaning reduces the risk of cross contamination. Disinfection after use helps ensure a pathogen-free area for subsequent users. Disinfectant spray bottles are kept in the rooms for investigators' convenience.

Sentinel Animals

Sentinel animals are provided to act as environmental monitors in animal rooms containing rodent breeding colonies, long term colonies, and colonies receiving tissues that could introduce contamination (i.e. tissue transplants). The sentinel animals are housed in filtered cages. When cages are scheduled to be changed, a small amount of dirty bedding is collected from a (rotated) selected rack of cages and added to the fresh sentinel cage. The sentinel animals are therefore uniformly exposed to any contaminant or pathogen that may be present within the colony. One sentinel animal from each group is sampled quarterly and the serum is tested for common rodent pathogens. Microbiology, parasitology, and histology are performed as deemed appropriate by a veterinary pathologist.

Routine Health Care of Animals

The health status of each animal is monitored on a daily basis by trained CMP personnel. It is also the responsibility of all CMP animal care workers to report any abnormalities or problems that may be observed during routine daily care procedures. These health observations are not meant to replace, but rather to augment, investigator observation and evaluation of project animals.

Reporting Sick Animals

Animals that display clinical illness are reported to the CMP Animal Health supervisor and veterinary staff for assessment. The health concern is described in writing via a Health Check Card or by a notation to the animal record. Investigators are consulted and a treatment strategy is devised. Animal treatments by CMP staff require specific approval from the investigator, except in emergency situations. In extreme cases, if investigative personnel cannot be directly contacted in a timely manner, CMP veterinary staff will determine and institute treatment and/or care.

Emergency Intervention

Emergency intervention by CMP personnel is performed only upon instruction from the CMP veterinary staff. In such an event, every effort is made to contact and consult with the investigator or a designated contact person prior to choosing a treatment /care option.

Emergency Contact

On call supervisor: 979.777.7014
Texas A&M Radio Room: 979.845.4311

Animal Records

Individual animal records are maintained on selected species in accordance with federal laws and guidelines. These records provide written documentation of procedures, injections, blood collections, and treatments, and are especially important in providing background information in the event of an animal health problem. Investigators and animal care staff are expected to make entries into these records immediately following any procedures with the animal.

Non-Rodent Species

Individual animal records are maintained for most non-rodent animal species (e.g., swine, dogs, cats, rabbits). Procedures, injections (substance, amount, and route), blood collections (method and amount collected), or treatments (substance, amount, and route of administration) should be recorded.

These animal records are kept in an area where the investigator and animal care staff have easy access to them. Regulations require that records be kept on file and available for review by inspectors for three years after the project is completed. If investigators would like or need information in the records, CMP will provide copies of the records, but originals will remain in the CMP.

Investigative personnel and CMP staff are expected to record all procedures performed on animals in the individual animal records of non-rodent species (dogs, cats, rabbits, swine, etc.). Entries should be made immediately following completion of each event, and should be dated and initialed. Procedures that should be entered in animal records include, but are not limited to:

  • injections or treatments (substance injected, location of injection, route of administration such as IM, SQ, IV, IP or ID and volume injected);
  • blood collections (site of collection and volume collected, along with any problems experienced);
  • anesthesia or tranquilization events (same information as injections should be provided);
  • surgical procedures explained in lay terms, any difficulties experienced or problems anticipated;
  • observations that may indicate an animal health problem;
  • assessment, treatment and resolution of health problems;
  • weights of animals.

Rodent Species

Individual records are not required for rodent species (mice, rats, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs). Most rodent records are managed on a cage basis rather than an individual basis. CMP provides blank white 3x5 cards in each animal room for investigator use (documentation of procedures, identification of groups, etc.). These cards should remain BEHIND the CMP computerized ID cage card or be cut in half so that the CMP computerized ID cage card can be seen. Records of animal health observations and actions are posted on the cage and should remain with the animal in order to assure that an adequate health history is maintained.

CMP Cage Card System

The CMP staff uses a card system (seen here) on animal cages to identify animals or animal care problems and needs. These cards are stored in the animal rooms for investigator convenience. The use of some cards (noted below) requires direct communication with the area supervisor in addition to posting a card.