based on the most current scientific data where such data are available. The Committee will also identify gaps in the scientific literature where additional research data are needed.
This report is the result of the Committee’s work to address this charge, and it is organized as follows. In the common vernacular, stress and distress are used almost interchangeably without consideration of the cause or scientific implications. However, the Committee attempted to the best of its ability to make a clear distinction between the scientific concepts of stress and distress, noting, in particular, that the causes and consequences of the latter are less well defined. Although a distinct definition of distress was not produced, Chapter 2 presents a balanced discussion of stress and distress that incorporates animal welfare perspectives based on the members’ best professional judgment. The report embraces the idea (also reflected in the U.S. Government Principles) that pain and distress are clearly two different things. Distress is caused by more than momentary painful situations (both acute and chronic), while non-pain-related distress exists as well. In fact, the latter, given the insidiousness of its causes, may be even more prevalent, as painful insults are easier to recognize and deal with than, for example, inadequate husbandry conditions.
In addition to compiling the most up-to-date information on the physiology of stress and distress, the Committee in Chapter 3 used its expertise in the area of animal behavior to provide the most current scientifically based information on normal and abnormal behaviors of some of the most commonly used laboratory species. While this information is not exhaustive, it does include pertinent examples of situations in which laboratory animals may experience distress. An important point of this chapter is that in order to recognize distress in animals, it is necessary to know their normal individual behaviors. Additional information on behaviors and score sheets for several commonly used laboratory species are included in the Appendix.
One way to minimize or eliminate distress, however, is to avoid it altogether. Chapter 4 outlines current practices and highlights specific issues to be considered for alleviating, minimizing, or preventing distress. Some measures for distress prevention include optimization of housing, enrichment, and socialization conditions based on the needs of the individual species or strains being used. Although much general information is available about acceptable conditions for maintaining animals in laboratories, in many instances scientific evidence is minimal or lacking. In those cases it is necessary to rely on the expert opinion of the professionals who work directly with the animals on a regular basis. In addition, research protocols for studies in which animal distress is anticipated should consider humane