Quarantine and Stabilization of Research Animals

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This policy provides the rationale for routine quarantine and stabilization of research animals, guidelines for determining when quarantine or stabilization of research animals is necessary, and procedures to be followed when quarantine and/or stabilization is required. As a part of the institutions program of adequate veterinary care submitted to USDA and NIH OLAW, the veterinarians are responsible for developing and monitoring the procedures for quarantine and stabilization. Principal Investigators are responsible for ensuring that their protocols and procedures comply with this policy

I. Quarantine Policy

Definition and Rationale Quarantine is isolation of animals to allow observation and testing for infectious or other diseases prior to introduction into the general colony. Quarantine is necessary under certain circumstances to minimize the possibility of introducing undesired infectious agents into animal facilities.

Mandatory Quarantine Fish, Rodents and Rabbits from non-approved sources, e.g., rodents and rabbits obtained from another research facility, may require quarantine as described in the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) Quarantine Evaluation of Rodents from Unapproved Sources. Prior to their release, the animals are tested for pathogenic rodent viruses, bacteria, and parasites.

1. Exemptions to quarantine

Rodents and rabbits received from approved vendors will not routinely require isolation and quarantine.

Currently approved vendors include:

  • Taconic
  • Charles River Laboratories
  • The Jackson Laboratory
  • Harlan, NCI-Frederick
  • Elm Hill
  • Millbrook Farms

2. Quarantine Imposed in Response to Evidence of Disease

  • Incoming animals: For all species, the consulting veterinarian may require a quarantine period when a suspected or confirmed disease is present in the source colony or herd, or if the condition of the animals upon receipt at the institution or at an approved off-site facility suggests that a disease may be present. Quarantine procedures in these cases will be developed in consultation between the clinical veterinarian and the Principal Investigator.
  • Institution animals: Similarly, the clinical veterinarian may impose quarantine procedures if there is evidence of a disease or outbreak within the animal facilities.
  • Quarantine procedures for any species or situation not expressly defined above are to be defined by consultation between the Principal Investigator and the clinical veterinarian.

II. Stabilization Policy

Definition and Rationale Stabilization is the practice of allowing animals to recover from shipment prior to use in experimental protocols. Transportation of research animals frequently involves temporary deprivation of food and water, crowding, exposure to a wider range of environmental temperatures than usual, and disruption of the light dark cycle. These aspects of the shipping process can lead to behavioral and physiological abnormalities in research animals that can alter experimental results or interfere with the ability of the animal to recover following experimental interventions (see references at the end of this policy documenting various effects of transportation-related stress.)

The major rationale for implementing a stabilization policy is to ensure animal welfare prior to experimentation. Stabilization prevents compounding of transportation stress with stress induced by the experimental procedures, and thus helps to ensure that animals have an optimal chance to recover with minimal pain and distress following experimental procedures. Stabilization procedures thus vary by species and by the procedures the animals will undergo.

Stabilization is not required following transportation of animals between the institution campuses using the Animal Transportation van, as the short transit time involved is not expected to be any more stressful than the process of transportation of animals within either campus.

Types of Procedures For the purpose of this policy, four categories of procedures are defined:

  • Acute (Terminal) Procedures are those studies in which the animal is euthanized while under anesthesia or is euthanized without anesthesia (e.g., for post-mortem tissue collection). It is believed that the stress of shipping will not affect scientific results.
  • Minor Survival Procedures Not Requiring Anesthesia, include physical examinations, collections of bodily fluids (excretions or secretions), blood sampling, and injections. It is believed that the stress of shipping will not affect scientific results.
  • Minor Survival Procedures Requiring Anesthesia are minimally invasive procedures and non-invasive procedures requiring anesthesia. Examples include cut-downs for vascular access and imaging studies. Scientific results may be affected by shipment stress, depending on the species.
  • Major Survival Procedures are major surgical procedures in which the animal is allowed to recover from anesthesia. The USDA defines major surgery as any surgical intervention that penetrates and exposes a body cavity or any procedure which produces permanent impairment of physical or physiological functions? (http://www.aphis.usda.gov/ac/cfr/9cfr1.html). Shipping stress compounds experimental stress and may affect scientific results.

Fish, Rodents and Rabbits

Acute Procedures: No stabilization required. Minor Survival Procedures Not Requiring Anesthesia: No stabilization required. Minor Survival Procedures Requiring Anesthesia: Overnight stabilization recommended. Major Survival Procedures. Overnight stabilization required.

Selected References:

Fazio, E., Ferlazzo, A. (2003) Evaluation of Stress During Transport. Veterinary Research Communications 27: Suppl. I 519-524

Tabata, H., Kitamura, T.,Nagamatsu, N. (1998) Comparison of effects of restraint, cage, transportation, anesthesia and repeated bleeding on plasma glucose levels between mice and rats. Laboratory Animals 32:143-148

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