Quality Control (health monitoring) and Veterinary Support
Quality control (Health Monitoring)
Monitoring health and genetic integrity is essential for producing high quality SPF rodents. We have an extensive and targeted quality control approach that consists of the following:
: Microbial Testing
: Molecular testing
: Serological testing
: Bacteriological testing for specific bacteria
: Parasitic and fungal testing
: Post mortem examination
Each facility area is considered a separate population and is reported as such in our health reports. Monthly serology screening is performed for the commonly encountered agents in Australia. More extensive serology panels and full bacteriology and parasitology tests are performed quarterly or semi-annually depending upon the agent and the facility area tested (e.g. barrier or isolator). Colony animal testing is conducted on sentinel animals exposed to dirty bedding for at least one month. Open top caging is used in all areas except our international quarantine area, where filter top lids are used.
The microbial status of our animals is determined by independent laboratories, including Cerberus Sciences (Adelaide); South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) – Murine Virus Monitoring Service; Agriculture WA, VetPath Laboratories and Murdoch University Parasitology department.
Details of health reports for each area can be found on the website http://test.arc.wa.gov.au/?page_id=190, or contact us. Health reports list agents that are specifically monitored due to their potential impact on the animal and/or on the research. Some agents are considered opportunistic while others 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.
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 the pH of the drinking water (pH 2.5) and is manually checked daily to ensure the correct pH.
Management of Areas, Colonies and Breeding.
Facility areas are managed as discrete units to minimise cross-contamination in the event of a disease outbreak. This includes restricting movement of people, animals and supplies. Procedures, colony locations and animal movements are all scrutinised to avoid genetic contamination.
Genetic Monitoring of Inbred Strains.
Extensive lineage charts and breeding records are maintained for inbred strains. Animals from either the foundation/nucleus or production colonies undergo genetic testing semiannually. Recently rederived animals also undergo genetic testing. This testing confirms the background strain’s genetic purity and ensures strains remain true to type. The Evolutionary Biology Unit, South Australian Museum conducts allozyme electrophoresis on the rat samples whereby the allelic profiles of 16 distinguishable biochemical rat markers are evaluated. The Australian Genome Research Facility Ltd (AGRF) evaluates twenty SNP markers in the mice.
Phenotype and Gene of Interest Testing.
In addition to genetic monitoring, we recognise the importance of ensuring strain characteristics of breeding pairs and stock animals remain consistent and in line with expectations for particular strains. To this end, we monitor the phenotype of relevant strains, including, blood pressure in the SHR rat, the SCID gene and other relevant strain-specific hematology and biochemical characteristics. Our phenotyping program continues to develop.
Customer Feedback and Communication.
An important part of our quality management system is to receive feedback on strain characteristics and health, both during transport and experimentation. Feedback is handled formally and we view feedback is an opportunity to continuously improve our services. Information regarding variations in strain characteristics, genetic integrity or disease outbreaks will be emailed to customers known to purchase the impacted strain.
Our veterinarians manage the quality control program, act as the facility veterinarians and are available to advise customers on veterinary related matters and animal-related variables during experimentation. Surgical alteration of rodents is available for a surcharge on the animal price (ovariectomies, vasectomies, castrations, and splenectomies). We have a strong emphasis on animal welfare in our approach to veterinary matters. Discussion with customers regarding any aspect of animal-related care or experimentation is both welcomed and valued.