Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)
Federal regulations require that all procedures involving the use of vertebrate animals be approved by an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) prior to initiation of the project. The DePauw University IACUC provides oversight for the animal care and use program at DePauw, which encompasses any use of vertebrate animals. The committee reviews all studies involving animal usage and inspects animal care facilities semiannually to ensure compliance with internationally accepted guidelines in the care and use of laboratory animals. Prior to initiation of any research project, testing, education, or any other use of vertebrates (fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds or mammals), the investigators must gain the approval of the IACUC.
Training, Health and Safety for Working with Laboratory Animals
All DePauw University faculty members, staff members and students who work with or come into contact with laboratory animals should have appropriate training on handling the animals and developing research protocols and should have available appropriate information regarding the health and safety risks posed by coming into contact with laboratory animals.
The American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) has an extensive online library of training courses, many of which are offered free. You may access this library at http://www.aalaslearninglibrary.org Click on the "Try it for free" link in the caption and a list of courses available for free will appear. Here are some courses that might be appropriate for you:
- General Information about Animal Research Laboratories: ALAT Courses >>
- ALAT 1: History and Purpose of Laboratory Animal Science and Animal Care Programs
- ALAT 2: The Research Facility Environment
- General Information about the IACUC (for IACUC members and faculty and staff members working with the IACUC): Working with the IACUC >> Working with the IACUC: non-VA version
- Developing research methodologies for specific species: Introduction to Research Animal Methodology Courses >> Choose the species. Note: these tutorials include a section on occupational health issues related to coming into contact and handling that species.
- Information for IACUC members and University administrators: IACUC Members and Administrators
- Information for students, lab technicians, and faculty members on laboratory mice:
- Working with the Laboratory Mouse
- Anesthesis and Analgesia >> Post-Procedure Care of Mice and Rates in Research: Minimizing Pain and Distress
Occupational Health and Safety
Occupational Health and Safety in the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals published by the Institute of Laboratory Animal Resources through the National Academies Press (1997) is the standard reference on occupational health and safety for those who come into contact with laboratory animals. For species-specific information on health and safety in working with animals, the University of California San Francisco's website, Working Safely with Animals, is an excellent resource. That guide identifies six hazard categories that anyone working with or coming into contact with a species out to be familiar with:
- Bites and scratches: Be familiar with the risk of bites and scratches from handling species and working with lab equipment and with first aid procedures.
- Allergens: Be aware of potential allergens carried by lab animals and of possible reactions to them.
- Protocol Related Hazards: Be familiar with hazards posed by equipment, chemicals, or procedures used in protocols. Receive proper training in administering the protocol.
- Zoonoses: Zoonotic diseases are those that can be transmitted from animals to humans. In general, lab species are carefully bred and screened so that they do not carry the same zoonotic hazards as their wild counterparts.
- Inherent Hazards: These are the inherent hazards in any workplace -- slips and falls, electric shock, etc.
General Precautions. Most precautions are common sense. Individuals handling animals should practice good hygiene, washing their hands before and after handling the animal. They should wear appropriate clothing and use appropriate protective gear. They should dispose of waste properly. They should report any injuries, even minor scratches, to their supervisor and seek appropriate treatment.