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Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthCAAT

2012 Animal Welfare Enhancement Awards

2012 Grant Recipents

Understanding non-pathogenic diarrhea in captive non-human primates to reduce associated morbidity
Hanie Elfenbein
California National Primate Research Center
University of California, Davis

We are constantly improving the methods used to care for animals in biomedical research facilities. We strive to provide the best care for the animals to improve their behavioral, physiological, and psychological health. Good research depends on animals with high levels of health and welfare in all of these categories. In order to support the goal of maximizing welfare, we will use data collected over the past 10 years on the health of animals housed in our non-human primate colony to better predict illness and disease outcome. We are specifically interested in diarrhea that cannot be directly attributed to intestinal infection and as such is likely to be related to the animal’s behavioral response to its environment. Diarrhea is widespread in captive non-human primates. In this study, we will examine each incident of diarrhea in order to determine risk factors for the development of this clinical condition. In addition to demographic information about the monkeys and their previous health history, we will employ data collected on the individual personality types of the animals as well as group dynamics in our large outdoor social habitats. By combining health and behavior variables we hope to determine those colony management strategies that maximize animal health. We believe that many of the cases of this type of diarrhea are preventable through improved animal management techniques. We will use the results of this project to better inform decisions about the care of monkeys in captivity.

Comparison of Various Paper Products Used as Enrichment Devices for Mice
Jillian Monk, RVT, Principal Investigator
Jason S Villano, DVM, DACLAM, Co-Principal Investigator
Animal Resource Center

An enrichment program is an integral component of an animal care and use program. The
Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (National Research Council, 2010) indicates that the primary aim of environmental enrichment is to enhance animal well-being. However, concerns have been raised that enriched housing may also serve as a confounding variable in animal research by disrupting standardization and so affecting the precision and reproducibility of research results. It is also possible that the chemical property of an enrichment device would affect the animal’s physiology. For example, paper enrichment materials may be contaminated with chemicals such as dioxin, a by-product of paper bleaching. Reports indicated that animals exposed to dioxins had altered blood values. In this regard, we will investigate the possible effects on blood values of various paper products (paper towel, tube, crinkles, and Bio-Serve Nesting SheetsTM) that could be used as enrichment for mice. Mice will be observed regularly and characterization of how they use the materials to enrich their environment will be documented. We will then conduct a cost analysis to determine which of these products are cost-effective. We hypothesize that the four paper products do not induce significant physiologic (blood) alterations and that the paper towel is relatively, the most cost-effective paper rodent enrichment device.

Minimizing symptoms and stress in seizure-prone mice by using acupressure during routine handling
Melanie Young
Senior Animal Technician
UCLA Division of Laboratory Animal Medicine
David Geffen School of Medicine

Many laboratory mice used in research experience spontaneous seizures during cage changing and routine handling. The triggers are usually the abrupt sound and sudden motion of the cage. These seizures can range from mild to severe, often resulting in uncontrollable convulsions and possibly leading to injury or death of the animal. Animal technicians have no recourse other than to observe and handle the animals more gently, but this does not stop nor prevent seizures from occurring in the future.
In some cases of seizures in humans and canines, acupressure has been shown to halt and minimize seizure severity. My study will be testing acupressure techniques to minimize seizure symptoms in laboratory mice. Using a stopwatch, I will be timing the seizures of individual seizure-prone mice housed in our facilities to establish a baseline/control. Various anatomical locations including the tail, ears, and feet will have acupressure applied manually during weekly cage changing, then timed and compared for effectiveness. In a pilot study, the majority of mice tested with this technique have had seizures reduced to half the time of baseline. In some cases the seizure activity stopped altogether after several weeks of testing during cage changing.