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a day. Animals should be kept dry during such flushing. The timing of pen or run cleaning should take into account normal behavioral and physiologic processes of the animals; for example, the gastrocolic reflex in meal-fed animals results in defecation shortly after food consumption.
The frequency of sanitation of cages, cage racks, and associated equipment, such as feeders and watering devices, is governed to some extent by the types of caging and husbandry practices used, including the use of regularly changed contact or noncontact bedding, regular flushing of suspended catch pans, and the use of wire-bottom or perforated-bottom cages. In general, enclosures and accessories, such as tops, should be sanitized at least once every 2 weeks. Solid-bottom caging, bottles, and sipper tubes usually require sanitation at least once a week. Some types of cages and racking might require less-frequent cleaning or disinfection; these might include large cages with very low animal density and frequent bedding changes, cages that house animals in gnotobiotic conditions with frequent bedding changes, individually ventilated cages, and cages used for special circumstances. Some circumstances, such as microisolator housing or more densely populated enclosures, might require more frequent sanitation.
Rabbits and some rodents, such as guinea pigs and hamsters, produce urine with high concentrations of proteins and minerals. Minerals and organic compounds in the urine from these animals often adhere to cage surfaces and necessitate treatment with acid solutions before washing.
Primary enclosures can be disinfected with chemicals, hot water, or a combination of both. Washing times and conditions should be sufficient to kill vegetative forms of common bacteria and other organisms that are presumed to be controllable by the sanitation program. When hot water is used alone, it is the combined effect of the temperature and the length of time that a given temperature (cumulative heat factor) is applied to the surface of the item that disinfects. The same cumulative heat factor can be obtained by exposing organisms to very high temperatures for short periods or exposing them to lower temperatures for longer periods (Wardrip and others 1994). Effective disinfection can be achieved with wash and rinse water at 143-180ºF or more. The traditional 82.2ºC (180ºF) temperature requirement for rinse water refers to the water in the tank or in the sprayer manifold. Detergents and chemical disinfectants enhance the effectiveness of hot water but should be thoroughly rinsed from surfaces before reuse of the equipment.
Washing and disinfection of cages and equipment by hand with hot water and detergents or disinfectants can be effective but require attention to detail. It is particularly important to ensure that surfaces are rinsed free of residual chemicals and that personnel have appropriate equipment to protect themselves from exposure to hot water or chemical agents used in the process.
Water bottles, sipper tubes, stoppers, feeders, and other small pieces of equipment should be washed with detergents, hot water, and, where appropriate, chemical agents to destroy microorganisms.