The use of vertebrate animals in laboratory classes is an important facet of a scientific education. The UCR IACUC recognizes that the University has a responsibility to ensure that all animals on campus are treated according to relevant laws, regulations and University guidelines. This use has the potential to expose the students to agents that could be harmful to their health.
Student exposure to animals in a classroom setting is closely supervised and of short duration. The UCR IACUC has determined that students and teaching assistants in laboratory courses should be provided the following information:
1. The existence and purpose of the UCR IACUC, the campus veterinarian and the Occupational Health and Safety Program.
2. How to contact these entities.
3. How animals are cared for at UCR.
4. How animal protocols are evaluated.
5. General information as to health and agricultural issues addressed by research at UCR.
6. General information on potential dangers to humans engaging in animal research.
7. Specific information as to any potential dangers the students will be exposed to during their work in the laboratory (e.g. allergies and zoonotic disease), including the signs and symptoms, as well as the appropriate course of action (including contacting the UCR Campus Veterinarian and the course instructor).
8. Information as to the likelihood of contracting health problems through this work.
9. Information as to where to gain more information, such as the website of the Campus Veterinarian, as well as names (phone numbers and email addresses) for contacting knowledgeable individuals on campus.
In addition to the general information enumerated above, all students should read the specific course AUP. The instructor and TA(s) shall train the students in the appropriate procedures and supervise all animal procedures closely. Thus, both the instructor(s) and TA(s) must have completed the full UCR animal training process. Any euthanasia or other animal procedure must be done by a person who has been trained in the procedure which is being used. The professor in charge of the course is responsible for training Teaching Assistants, students and other personnel who will perform animal procedures in the course or for contacting the campus veterinarian so that proper training is provided.
The IACUC, when reviewing AUPs for laboratory classes, may require student participation in the Occupational Health & Safety Program if the risks are deemed significant.
Approved 12/4/06; updated 6/11/07
Vertebrate Animals in UCR Classrooms
Information for Students
What is this brochure for?
You are being given this brochure because you are enrolled in a laboratory class where the experiment(s) involve vertebrate animals. This brochure will provide you with general information on both health issues regarding animal studies and the ethical and legal responsibilities regarding vertebrate animal use.
Can professors use animals for teaching?
Your professors first decide what experiments are important for the course. BUT, before these experiments can be done, they must be reviewed by a committee who examines the usefulness to society, the use of anesthetics and analgesics, the procedures, how the animals are monitored, and the numbers necessary for the work. This committee, called the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), is made up of scientists, non-scientists, a veterinarian, and a community member.
Who cares for the animals at UCR?
Most of the animals studied at UCR are housed in facilities designed for this purpose. Air exchange, temperature, food and caging are carefully evaluated and monitored. Each facility has a senior technician and staff that maintain the animals. In some cases the animals live in the wild, and are either observed or captured by the students for a short time. The UCR Campus Veterinarian is responsible for the housing and use of all animals, on and off campus.
Are there any risks to people when they use animals in a classroom?
Yes. Whenever people are in contact with animals, whether as pets or in class, there are risks which you should consider. These risks fall into three categories: physical, such as bites and scratches; diseases, specifically those that can be transferred from the animal to humans; and allergies, which humans can develop to animals. The specific risk depends on the animal being studied. The most common problem for people working with animals is the development of allergies, usually to mice or rats. Your professor should be providing you with information about the risks posed by the animals you will work with in class. However, you should also think for yourself and consider what the dangers may be. More information on these risks can be found at http://safetyservices.ucdavis.edu/ps/occh/acuohp/pem/allergyToAnimals
How do I protect myself when I’m using animals for course work?
Physical risks – your instructors will teach you how to handle the animals. Proper handling protects both the animal and you.
Disease – there are very few zoonotic diseases (ones that can be transferred to humans) present in the animals housed on campus. However, precautions, such as wearing gloves and washing your hands afterward, are the most useful ways of protecting yourself.
Allergy – As stated above, allergies are the most common risk. Your exposure in class will be short, and it is not likely you will develop an allergy so quickly. However, if you are considering a career that will involve animals, you would be wise to use caution now, so that allergies will be less likely to affect your career later. Wearing gloves, washing your hands and wearing a dust mask are recommended (and may be required in some classes). You should not bring the animal too close to your face (those mice are cute, but be cautious). And you should consider changing and washing your clothes as soon as possible after your class.
What is the UCR Occupational Health and Safety Program?
In order to identify individuals who might be at risk from zoonotic diseases and allergies, the UCR IACUC and Campus Veterinarian have created the Occupational Health and Safety Program. All people who come in contact with animals may provide information on their vaccinations and previous health issues. This confidential form is reviewed by physicians; if it is determined that there is a possible risk, the individual is tested further to determine the level of risk and appropriate protection needed. Depending on the animals and activities in your class, you may be required to complete this form. If your professor or T.A.s do not tell you this is required, you may request participation in this program by contacting email@example.com or 827-6332.
What should I do?
- Listen to what your professor and T.A.s tell you. Make sure you understand if there are any potential dangers, what protective equipment you will use (e.g. gloves), and know any signs and symptoms. Ask if anything isn’t clear.
- Know how to get more information (see below for websites and contact information for the IACUC and Campus Veterinarian).
- Learn how to handle the animals carefully. Carefully follow course procedures.
- Read and understand the Animal Use Protocol (AUP). Your professor wrote the AUP to inform the IACUC of the procedures used in your classroom. The IACUC has reviewed and approved this work.
Who do I contact for more information?
The IACUC can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by contacting the IACUC Analyst at 951-827-4809. The Campus Veterinarian can be reached at email@example.com, or by contacting the Office of the Campus Veterinarian at 951-827-6332. When calling it is best to begin by identifying yourself as a student in a class that uses vertebrate animals.
As a society, people in the United States have been considering the scientific use of animals for a long time. Discussion of this issue can be found at the following websites (http://www.fbresearch.org/, http://awic.nal.usda.gov/, http://www.amprogress.org/). There are laws and regulations governing the use of animals in teaching and research (http://www.nal.usda.gov/awic/legislat/usdaleg1.htm, http://grants.nih.gov/grants/olaw/olaw.htm).