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Animal Resource COVID-19 Updates

Automatic Splitting of Overcrowded Mouse Cages 

Dear researchers with breeding colonies of mice, 

Three weeks into the lab shutdown, we have been finding many overcrowded mouse cages with newborns, an older weanable litter and parents.  

From this point onward during the lab shutdown, the vivarium animal care staff will automatically correct these overcrowded cages by separating weanlings by sex and separating breeders.  Weanlings will be offered gelatin supplements and monitored for water intake daily.

We will e-mail the lab when this corrective action occurs and document the home cage on the new cage card.  We thank the designated breeding colony managers who are coming in to manage their colonies but recognize that may not be possible for all staff.  There is no charge for this service. posted 4/9/2020

Dear research community, 

The Animal Resource remains fully staffed with essential animal care personnel providing full services to all animals without disruption in our food and bedding supply chain.  We received a weekly delivery of animal food and bedding this morning.

Since my last update, we have adopted universal masking of personnel entering the Animal Resource to minimize the silent transmission of COVID-19 from asymptomatic personnel to other personnel.   We have adequate PPE to meet our program needs.

For those research labs that have not identified essential personnel to manage breeding colonies of mice, the vivarium is separating weanlings and breeders when handled at weekly cage assessments.  

We look forward to seeing you as soon as the lab shutdown is over.  Best wishes- Jeff posted 4/7/2020

Animal Resource Answers to 3 COVID-19 FAQs posted 3/17/2020

University researchers received the following information in an email from Drs. Rob Clark, Steve Dewhurst, John Tarduno and Richard Waugh on March 19, 2020.

“Effective next Tuesday (3/24), we are going to need to limit facility access to these individuals only.  Backups should be designated for each of these individuals (if not already specified in business continuity plans).  Under exceptional circumstances, a 3rd staff member may be granted access for a short time period, with chair approval and if necessary, for animal-related activities. 

No new research may be initiated on-site, effective immediately.  Only the following research will be permitted to continue on-site:

1.  Approved* research on COVID-19; 

2.  Approved* therapeutic clinical trials; and

3.  Approved* ongoing essential experiments (e.g., long-term animal studies needing harvesting of tissues).  (*Approved by the relevant department chair/center director and the relevant research dean) “ posted 3/20/20 

The Dean’s office asks research labs to designate a limited number of people per lab (two per lab or 10% of the lab, whichever is more) who are allowed to come in, to continue essential operations such as attending to mouse/animal breeding or experimental colonies. Staff should maintain an appropriate distance (six feet) from one another at all times.

If labs choose not to designate essential personnel to manage breeding colonies or feed experimental diet, the vivarium animal care staff by default will wean mice, separate breeders, and provide normal feed and water. posted 3/20/20 

Dear researchers with animals in the University of Rochester Vivaria in the Medical Center and River Campus,

Our AAALAC reviewed and approved Animal Resource Disaster Plan includes a Pandemic Preparedness Protocol.  We review and update it at least every 6 months as part of our NIH required UCAR Semiannual Program Review as well as when potential pandemic threats emerge such as the 2006 H5N1 panzootic/ pandemic and the 2003 SARS epidemic.   We are prepared for a worst case scenario where 90% of our animal care and support staff are unable to come to work and when our animal food, bedding and water supplies may not be replenished due to a compromised supply chain. 

Facing our worst case, apocalyptic, scenario we are able to support our animals for 6 weeks. 

However, our food and bedding distributor has reassured us today that they have a warehouse full of animal diet and bedding and highly trained, emergency prepared drivers in well maintained vehicles to continue weekly shipments of supplies even when confronted with a NY State of Emergency.  All of our animal care and support staff are considered “essential staff” and will report to work in the face of a NY State of Emergency.   Our staff will be carrying “Essential Staff for Emergency Life Support” cards with our Vivarium Leadership Cell phone numbers available in case they are stopped by law enforcement at road blocks.

Please be assured. The Animal Resource is prepared to respond to a pandemic potentially causing severe staffing and supply shortages. posted 3/12/2020

Dear researchers, 

Our inventory assessment of the remaining surgical masks indicates we only have 25 available per day until May when we anticipate a new shipment.  

Please reserve surgical masks for only three animal research activities: 

(1) Survival surgery on animals.  Survival surgery on mice INSIDE biosafety cabinets does NOT require a surgical mask.... Only tabletop surgery requires a surgical face mask. 

(2) Handling severely immunodeficient mice OUTSIDE of a HEPA air supplied hood ... which is not recommended due to the many environmental health risks posed to severely immunocompromised mice outside of HEPA air supplied cage or hood. 

(3) Working with nonhuman primates. 

As currently being practiced in the hospital, please re-use the same surgical mask for the procedures above as long as the mask does not get wet or soiled. 

A limited supply of surgical masks will be available in the mouse surgical procedure suites and the primate corridors. 

Please remember that surgical masks only keep discharges from falling out of your nose & mouth onto others as well as offer a splash/particulate guard when working near monkeys. 

Surgical masks offer NO respiratory protection to workers ranging from allergens to airborne viruses.  Per usual, contact UHS if you require respiratory protection from allergens.  We have NO ABSL3 research involving airborne infectious agents requiring specialized respirators such as N95 masks. posted 3/2/2020