Preventative Medicine Programs

Cooperation with Research Animal Resources (RAR) preventative medicine programs is essential. Attention must be given to procedures such as room entry requirements, traffic flow, and animal and waste handling requirements.

Preventative medicine is an important aspect of RAR’s veterinary service program. When diseases are introduced into a concentrated housing area, they can quickly spread, causing morbidity and disastrous effects on research programs.

Exclusion of disease is one of the most efficient methods of ensuring a healthy animal. Once established, a disease can be difficult to eradicate. Treatments are often costly, aren’t always effective, and may present as significant of a research variable as the disease itself.


Vendor evaluation and screening

RAR veterinarians establish health specifications for all animals purchased by the University of Minnesota.

Most animals are received from RAR-approved vendors who have a longstanding relationship with the University. Requests to purchase animals from other sources are forwarded to veterinary staff for evaluation.

Veterinarians communicate with vendors and/or their veterinarians to review health history and confirm that program needs and quality will be met prior to giving approval to purchase.

Incoming animals may be tested or necropsied to screen against diseases that are being excluded from the facility.


Large animals: Incoming evaluation

All large animals and rabbits are examined on arrival by a member of the RAR veterinary staff.

The examination includes a health evaluation and a behavioral assessment. Veterinary staff verify the order specifications, and contact the investigator and area veterinarian if any problems are found.

Treatments

Animals will also receive the treatments described below. A special service fee will be assessed for these and any additional procedures requested by investigators.

  • 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.
  • Dogs and cats are vaccinated and receive anti-parasitic treatment.
  • Non-human primates are tested for a variety of diseases and zoonoses, and receive anti-parasitic treatment.

Acclimation period

Large animals may not be used for experimental procedures until 72 hours after entry into the facility.

In addition, 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 allows the animal to acclimate to the facility and reduce the chance of stress-induced disease, including anesthetic death.


Rodents and non-mammals: Incoming evaluation

RAR receives health reports with each shipment of rodents. Health reports may be provided for other species, but this information may not be available for all facilities.

Laboratory animal care staff visually examine all animals received by RAR when they are placed into housing. The staff verify order specifications and contact the investigator and area veterinarian if any problems are found.   

Acclimation period

There is no specific acclimation requirement for rodents and rabbits, although a one-week acclimation period is recommended for all animals to prevent stress-induced disease.