COVID-19: Animal Care and Use

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Updates on COVID-19: Animal Care and Use (IACUC)

Researchers should review Penn State’s COVID-19 guidance for researchers. This webpage has been created to share the answers to COVID-19-related questions as pertains to animal care, use, and oversight. For more information on on other research areas visit https://www.research.psu.edu/covid

Last updated 4/28/21, removed outdated FAQs. 

 

IACUC Operations

The Penn State and Penn State College of Medicine IACUC groups continue to conduct official business, including but not limited to: meeting regularly to review the Program of Animal Care and Use, conducting protocol review and approval, accepting reports of and investigating animal welfare concerns, reporting to federal agencies and AAALACi and completing grant congruency reviews. 

IACUC staff are available to answer questions, assist in protocol preparation and provide remote training and consultation as needed. See contact information below:

 

Animal Facilities

The Animal Resource Programs (ARP)  at both University Park and the College of Medicine will continue to operate as normal. However, the continuation of research activities will be dependent on the availability of laboratory personnel to conduct the work and monitor animals.  Animal facilities must be maintained at a level to ensure animal welfare.  Investigator labs must keep ARP informed if their personnel are not able to care for their animals on study.  If the laboratory staff is reduced, assign alternate personnel to fill in as needed. In the case of a sudden unexpected reduction in laboratory personnel that can not be managed, contact ARP for assistance. ARP will provide additional guidance via e-mail as dictated by the situation.  Principal investigators and unit managers of animal housing sites NOT managed by ARP are responsible for continued care. 

Decisions regarding termination of animal studies and reduction of animal populations should be made in consultation with the Animal Resource Program (ARP) (University Park – 865-1495; arp@psu.edu ; College of Medicine - 717-531-8460 or contact Dr. Ronald Wilson rwilson2@pennstatehershey.psu.edu).

Note: 

  • It may be necessary to temporarily pause new animal studies.
  • Breeding activity should be adjusted to prevent over production of animals that can not be used.
  • Investigators should plan ahead and weigh the cost of potentially ending a study early with the cost of delaying the work until a further date.
  • Each lab should schedule activities such that the minimum number of personnel are present at a time and should ensure that personnel wear a self-supplied face mask and follow hygiene and social distancing guidelines .

 

Additionally, research conducted at Penn State Agricultural facilities that has been identified as critical and may continue, as well as wildlife Research conducted in the field where there is little contact with other people and represents minimal risk. Travel to and from the field sites should address social distancing (1 person per vehicle or special arrangements). 

Review the Guidelines for Maintenance Breeding during research reduction. 

 

See below for answers to Frequently Asked Questions regarding IACUC and ARP updates related to COVID-19.

Instructors may need to modify instructional methods or the timing of certain activities. If there will be changes that involve the use of animals, instructors should review their IACUC protocols and submit amendments if needed. Possible changes that would require modifications include but are not limited to the following:

  • Video recording or live streaming of animals or related procedures 
  • An increase in the numbers of animals needed to accommodate different group sizes or distancing requirements
  • The potential reuse of animals
  • A change in procedures to be conducted or species to be used

Principal Investigators should review their protocols carefully to determine if the work with animals will be conducted as written in the protocol. If not, an amendment must be submitted to update the protocol accordingly. Potential changes include but are not limited to the following:

  • Experiment modifications 
  • Timing of procedures
  • Age of animals at the time of use
  • Experimental groups or design 
  • Details of procedures conducted
  • Increase in animal numbers for breeding/experiments
  • Note: the number of animals used to date on protocols includes any euthanized without assignment to an experiment. 
  • As always, animals bred should be counted as used at the time of birth and all animal usage should be tracked, accurate, and up to date.

The IACUC will continue to review submissions to the committee during this time. Submissions can be made as usual (via CATS IACUC and/or email). IACUC administrators will continue to provide service to researchers. Please contact the IACUC Office for assistance: Hershey Campus (IACUC@pennstatehealth.psu.edu, x285895 or x285571), University Park (ORP-IACUC@psu.edu, 814-865-8897). Email and phones will continue to be monitored.

Veterinary personnel will continue to monitor reports on risks related to research animals and communicate those with the research community. 

For information on animals and COVID review these AVMA and CDC resources.

Yes. Even if the research is not currently active, the PI must still submit the annual or three-year renewal to ensure continuity of approval. This will allow research to begin again immediately when permitted. Failure to submit the Review will result in lapse of approval and study closure. If the study is closed, the study cannot be re-opened without submitting a new application and all research activities must stop until the new application is approved.

Essential research is ongoing, long-term animal studies for which premature termination would result in loss of critical data and the waste of animal subjects; and completion of studies scheduled to conclude within the next few weeks. Please see full information from OSVPR. Even if the research is not currently active, the PI must still submit the annual or three-year renewal to ensure continuity of approval. This will allow research to begin again immediately when permitted. Failure to submit the Review will result in lapse of approval and study closure. If the study is closed, the study cannot be re-opened without submitting a new application and all research activities must stop until the new application is approved.