Part 3.10 Monitoring and records
This is Part 3.10 of the Code of Practice for the Housing and Care of Laboratory Mice, Rats, Guinea Pigs and Rabbits.
Whether for the purpose of inspection by the AEC or government authority, for Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) or Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS) requirements, for breeding, experimental or troubleshooting purposes, it is important to maintain complete and thorough records on all animals. In addition, SOPs may be useful to ensure that monitoring in animal care facilities is consistent and comprehensive. This section in particular should be read in conjunction with the various references to 'monitoring' in the current Australian Code.
Examples of recommended monitoring sheets can be found in Appendices 4 to 10. These can be modified to meet the specific needs of the animals, animal house personnel or investigators, but should demonstrate important considerations of animal health and welfare.
For the purpose of this Code, monitoring means assessment and recording of events, data or effects as per the minimum standards. Unless specified in the AEC approved project application, the primary responsibility for monitoring the health and welfare of animals during an approved project lies with the assigned chief investigator of the project.
Minimum standards for monitoring and records:
- A system of assessment and recording of animal breeding or use must be implemented.
- For the purpose of inspection, animal records must be retained for a minimum of four years.
- Relevant records (including computer records) must be readily accessible for inspection.
- Any transfer or sharing of the responsibility for monitoring animal health and welfare between animal house personnel and research investigators, especially following invasive procedures, must be recorded.
Monitoring should include the assessment and recording of:
- Animals issued to projects and AEC approval dates;
- Newly-arrived animals/animals received for health and acclimatisation;
- Room temperature and humidity (ideally constantly);
- Animals that are identified as sick or recovering post-procedure;
- Pregnant and lactating animals and litters;
- Breeding parameters (see 3.10 iii);
- Expected or unexpected adverse effects on all animals, including genetically modified or cloned animals (see 3.10 v);
- Deaths and culls; and
- Training of animal technicians and investigators in handling, basic procedures, obligations under the Codes, the Act, and institution policy.
Numbers of animals displaying adverse effects, pain, distress or ill health must be monitored daily, and ideally should be recorded on monthly or annual sheets to enable trends to be identified and possible disease or adverse phenotypes to be detected and reported if necessary.
Refer also to Appendix 10 for an example phenotype report.
Breeding facilities must maintain adequate records to allow the effective management of the colonies, including detection of the origin and spread of disease. Records consistent with The Australian Code should include:
- the source, care, allocation, movement between locations, use and fate of all animals
- details of any disease
- the fertility, fecundity, morbidity and mortality in breeding colonies
- the health status, genetic constitution and the physical environment of the animals.
Refer also to Appendices 7, 8 and 9.
To centralise and communicate effective monitoring and records, computer databases should be used.
Records of unexpected adverse effects associated with phenotype or procedure should be maintained and, preferably, disseminated within the institution. Refer also to Appendix 10 for an example phenotype report.