Veterinary Services, led by the Attending Veterinarian, is the UAF unit responsible for ensuring that animals (captive or free-ranging live vertebrates) used for research, teaching, or testing by UAF personnel (faculty, staff, students, volunteers and collaborators) are provided adequate veterinary care as required by regulation. The UAF Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) provides oversight of the animal care program through periodic inspections and program evaluations. In keeping with the standards of adequate veterinary care established by the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine (ACLAM), UAF Veterinary Services provides oversight and guidance on the following:
- Disease Detection and Surveillance, Prevention, Diagnosis, Treatment and Resolution
- Handling and Restraint; Anesthetics, Analgesics and Tranquilizer Drugs; and Methods of Euthanasia
- Surgical and Post-surgical Care
- Animal Well-Being
- Appropriate Use of Animals in Research and Testing
UAF Veterinary Services works closely with the IACUC and Animal Facility staff on all issues of animal care and use. In addition, the Attending Veterinarian is a voting member of the IACUC.
Animal Health Monitoring
Although Veterinary Services has the primary responsibility for insuring that UAF animals receive adequate veterinary care, everyone with access to UAF animals must share in the responsibility for insuring their health and welfare.
All animals entering UAF animal facilities are subject to a quarantine period. Animals from commercial suppliers are quarantined for 10 days, while wild-caught animals are quarantined for 14 days unless otherwise specified by Veterinary Services.
Quarantine of new animals is necessary to ensure they're healthy, to protect staff and other animals in the facility from potential exposures to infectious agents, and to allow the animals' to acclimate to their new environment. During quarantine animals are not available for experiments or teaching activities, without the express permission of the IACUC and Veterinary Services. Animal care and evaluation during the quarantine period will be conducted by permanent animal facility and/or veterinary services staff.
Specific procedures for entrance/exit of quarantined rooms must be clearly posted on the room door(s). Animal facilities personnel will keep required personal protective equipment available immediately outside the room. A footbath containing disinfectant solution (quaternary ammonia based product) must be available outside the door and must be used when exiting. Other items (i.e. gloves, cages, etc.) must also be disinfected prior to being removed from the quarantine room.
Reporting Sick, Injured or Dead Animals
All personnel are required to notify Veterinary Services immediately if they see a sick, injured, distressed or dead animal in the animal facilities. Prompt reporting is essential both for the timely diagnosis and treatment of sick or injured animals and for determining cause of death.
Always wear gloves when handling sick, injured, distressed, or dead animals!
UAF Veterinary Services is responsible for maintaining the health of the animal populations, so their focus is on disease prevention and diagnosis. This means that Veterinary Services will often choose to euthanize sick animals rather than treat them; this is done in order to obtain fresh tissues for diagnostic tests and to minimize the chance of disease transmission to other animals.
Emergency contact information for Veterinary Services personnel is posted by the phone in each animal facility.
A necropsy (i.e. animal autopsy) is required for all animals that are found dead or are euthanized due to poor health, surgical complications, injury, etc. Necropsy is not required when animals that are euthanized purely for colony management or as part of an approved Animal Use Assurance.
Always wear gloves when handling dead animals!
Once you have reported the death, collect the animal as directed by Veterinary Services for later necropsy and complete the top section of the Necropsy Report. It is essential that you provide as much detail as possible about the animal's condition.
Examples of common things that should be reported include, but are not limited to: recent surgery/procedure (provide date and type of surgery/procedure), diarrhea, any recent handling (e.g. for blood collection, weighing, etc.), recent behavioral changes (not eating well, constant circling, self-mutilation, scratching, etc), weight loss or gain (provide numbers if available), appearance of a bump or wound, or unusual changes in the condition of the skin/pelage/plumage. When reporting symptoms, physical or behavioral changes provide the date of onset or when it was first noticed and describe the changes in detail rather than simply noting that the animal "looked sick", "was acting weird" or "was not doing well". Other important things to note are whether or not the animal had food and water available, and any recent changes in location or housing. You should also note if there are research records available that may be helpful (e.g. body temperature, EEG, or activity recordings) and who can provide access to such records.
In general, small dead birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles should be placed in a whirl-pak bag labeled with the animal's identification number, sex, and date of death, and then placed in the animal facility refrigerator designated for samples/carcasses. Do not put the carcass in a refrigerator designated for the storage of food for people or animals. The completed necropsy report form should be placed in the refrigerator with, but NOT in the bag, with the carcass. Report large dead mammals (reindeer, caribou, or muskox) to the animal facility manager.
Last, but not least, note the animal's death on the Animal Disposition Sheet and record the change in animal number on the appropriate room, cage, pen, or tank census sheet.
Necropsies are an essential part of the UAF animal care program, so there is no charge for this service.
Researchers working with live vertebrates in the field need to develop a plan for dealing with any morbidity or mortality events before they go. Depending on the location, available facilities, and permit conditions necropsy may or may not be possible or required. At minimum all field morbidity and mortality events must be reported to the IACUC with as much detail about the circumstances as possible. These reports should be made at the earliest possible opportunity, rather than waiting until the next Progress Report is due.
Service Requests Sterilization
Veterinary Services maintains an autoclave and a gas sterilization system. Autoclaves are typically used to sterilize standard surgical instruments, drapes, and other supplies that will not be damaged by the moisture, heat and pressure. More delicate surgical tools (e.g. ophthalmic scissors), electronic implants, and other heat or moisture sensitive solid materials are typically sterilized using ethylene oxide gas. UAF uses Anprolene, a tradename for ethylene oxide from Andersen Sterilizers.
Veterinary Services will sterilize items for UAF projects for a fee, given sufficient notice. The fee charged will depend on the amount of personnel time required and supplies used; contact Veterinary Services for specific pricing. Whenever possible Veterinary Services will consolidate items from multiple projects into a single run to reduce costs for users.
Ordering Pharmaceuticals & Supplies
Veterinary Services maintains a small inventory of commonly used surgical supplies and drugs. However, to ensure that the supplies you need are available when you need be sure to provide Veterinary Services sufficient lead time to place the order and for it to be shipped from the supplier. Veterinary Services does not charge any mark-up for this service.
Per USDA Policy, investigators are expected to use pharmaceutical-grade medications whenever they are available, even in acute procedures. Non-pharmaceutical-grade chemical compounds may only be used in live vertebrate animals after specific review and approval by the IACUC for reasons such as scientific necessity or non-availability of an acceptable veterinary or human pharmaceutical-grade product. Cost savings alone are not an adequate justification for using non-pharmaceutical-grade compounds in live vertebrate animals.
The Veterinary Services staff are available to advise UAF faculty, staff and students on all aspects of the care and use of laboratory animals and wildlife. Common areas of consultation include appropriate analgesia for post-surgical or procedure care, basic animal husbandry, surgical procedures, selecting appropriate supplies for new procedures or species (e.g. suture material, needles, capture darts and charges, etc.). Since Veterinary Services staff review all animal use procedures included in an IACUC Assurance application or Modification Request, we recommend consulting them prior to submitting an application to the IACUC; this is the best way to prevent unnecessary delays in the review process. There is no charge for consultations.
At the discretion of the Attending Veterinarian, Veterinary Services personnel may perform or assist with research activities (e.g. surgeries, procedures, tests, or tissue collections). However, the research project will be billed for the personnel time and any supplies used for the activity.
Contact John Blake (x5188 or firstname.lastname@example.org) to arrange for research services.
Training and Skill Checks
Personnel wishing to perform any of the following activities must receive training from UAF Veterinary Services. This training is provided at no cost.
- Aseptic Technique
- Experimental Surgery & Suturing Techniques
- Gas Anesthesia Machine Use
- Controlled Substances Procedures
- Animal Health Checks (routine, pre- and post-procedure)
- Animal Handling
- Sampling Techniques (e.g. blood draw or tissue biopsy)
Although personnel may observe and receive instruction from others, such training does not fulfill the training requirement. The final step in the training process is for a member of the Veterinary Services staff to observe the individual performing the technique; if they demonstrate sufficient skill they will be authorized to perform the technique(s) unsupervised. Any deficiencies will be addressed through additional training or supervised procedures.
Either the IACUC or Veterinary Services may require an individual or group to repeat training or be trained in a modified technique if the number or extent of complications, including mortalities, exceeds that which is expected.