TABLE 4-6 Recommendations for Shipment of Research Animals Between Institutions

  • Shipments of research animals between institutions should be coordinated between responsible persons at the sending and receiving institutions. They should ensure that all documentation is in order, including federal (CDC, USDA, and DOT), state, and local permits.

  • Shipments should be prepared by persons who have documented training in animal handling procedures and the proper use of PPE.

  • Animals should be placed in shipping containers that will provide protection to them and the receiving colony from microbial contamination.

  • Animals should be packaged according to regulatory-agency (IATA, USDA, and DOT) standards.

  • Shippers should provide documentation and assurances to recipients that the animals are healthy. If the recipient requires a more extensive health report, including testing for specific pathogens, the costs of the diagnostic tests should be covered by the consignee.

  • Only USDA-certified carriers should be used for transportation of research animals.

  • On receipt, the consignee should place the research animals at the appropriate level of biocontainment and quarantine before introduction into the laboratory colony.

when shipping animals to a colleague. Recommendations for shipment of animals between research institutions can be found in Table 4-6.

Barrier Containment

Most small-animal vendors have designed shipping containers that incorporate spun polypropylene filters to provide a physical barrier to the transfer of microbial contaminants into or out of each container, thus protecting research animals, colonies, and animal handlers from pathogen exposure during transportation. For gnotobiotic animals (animals whose microfauna and microflora are known in their entirety) and immuno-compromised animals, microisolation shipping containers are also available. Although the sturdy construction of the vendor containers may tempt researchers to reuse them to transfer research animals to other researchers, this practice is not recommended. Most vendors sterilize or disinfect the animal containers, food, and water before loading animals. Once a container has been opened at the recipient’s facility, its sterility has been compromised. Some facilities autoclave shipping containers for reuse; however, this may increase the air resistance of the polypropylene filters, restricting air flow (White, 2004). Until it can be established that autoclaving does not restrict air flow below acceptable levels, the committee suggests that the prudent course of action is to avoid autoclaving shipping containers for reuse. To ensure the biosafety of their animals,



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