Quality Control (health monitoring) and Veterinary Support
Monitoring health and genetic integrity is essential for producing high quality SPF rodents. We have an extensive and targeted quality control approach consisting of:
- Molecular testing
- Serological testing
- Bacteriological testing for specific bacteria
- Parasitic and fungal testing
- Post mortem examination (histological testing)
Each facility area is considered a separate population and is reported as such in our health reports. Monthly health screening is performed for select, commonly encountered agents with more comprehensive testing, which includes bacteriology and parasitology, performed quarterly and annually depending upon the agent and the facility area tested (e.g. barrier or isolator). Colony animal testing is conducted on sentinel and colony animals.
Animal health monitoring samples are analyzed by independent laboratories including IDEXX RADIL (Missouri, USA); Cerberus Sciences (Adelaide); VetPath Laboratories and Murdoch University Parasitology department.
Area health reports are available on the ARC website. Health reports list agents that are monitored due to their potential impact on animals and/or research. Some agents are considered opportunistic while others may only impact immunodeficient animals, or are classified as non-pathogenic or acceptable in research animals; where relevant these comments are indicated on the health report. Additional area health report information to the room level is also available.
Supplies entering animal areas are appropriately sterilised and monitored by chemical and biological indicators. In addition, food, bedding and water inside the animal areas are cultured monthly for bacteria and fungi. An automated system continuously verifies animal drinking water pH (2.5), in addition to a daily manual pH check.
Area, Colony and Breeding Management.
Facility areas are managed as discrete units to minimise cross-contamination. This includes restricting movement of personnel, animals and supplies. Procedures, colony locations and animal movement are all scrutinised to minimize genetic contamination.
Genetic Monitoring of Inbred Strains.
Genetic monitoring is conducted semi-annually to confirm the genetic background and genetic purity of inbred lines and the genetic diversity of outbred lines. Animals from either the foundation/nucleus or production colonies undergo genetic testing, as do recently rederived animals. The Evolutionary Biology Unit, South Australian Museum conducts allozyme electrophoresis of the allelic profiles for 16 distinguishable biochemical rat markers. The Australian Genome Research Facility Ltd (AGRF) evaluates twenty SNP markers in the mice.
Phenotype and Gene of Interest Testing.
The phenotype of relevant strains is monitored to ensure strain characteristics are consistent with customer expectations. Phenotype monitoring includes blood pressure analysis of the SHR rat. Testing for strain specific gene of interest is conducted on most mutant and induced mutant mice.
Customer Feedback and Communication.
Customer feedback regarding strain characteristics and animal health is an important part of our quality management system, this includes transport and experiment-related issues. Feedback is handled formally and provides an opportunity to improve our services by better understanding a customer’s unique needs and expectations. Information regarding variations in strain characteristics, genetic integrity or a known pathogenic agent outbreak will be emailed to customers known to purchase the impacted strain.
Our veterinarians manage the quality control program, provide veterinary care, and are available to advise customers on veterinary related matters and animal-related variables during experimentation. Rodent surgical alterations are available for a surcharge on the animal’s base price (ovariectomies, vasectomies, castrations, and splenectomies). We have a strong animal welfare emphasis in our approach to veterinary matters. Customer discussions regarding any animal-related care or experimentation matter is both welcomed and valued.