March 31, 2006 – ASM Submits Comments on Updating NIH’s Laboratory Animal Guide

Dr. Margaret Snyder
Director, Office of Science Affairs
Office of Extramural Research, OD, NIH
6705 Rockledge I, Suite 4184, MSC 7983
Bethesda, MD 20892-7983

Re: [RFI No. NOT-OD-06-011]

Dear Dr. Snyder:

The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) is responding to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) request for information in seeking to identify new scientific information that might warrant the NIH issuing a contract for a new or updated edition of the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (The Guide) (RFI No. NOT-OD-06-011). The following comments were developed by the ASM Committee on Agriculture and Food Microbiology (Committee), of the Public and Scientific Affairs Board.

The ASM is the largest single life science society with more than 42,000 members, including scientists in academic, industrial, clinical, and government institutions, working in areas related to basic and applied research, the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases, laboratory and diagnostic medicine, the environment, animal health, and water and food safety. The ASM applauds the NIH’s efforts to assist institutions in caring for and using animals in ways judged to be scientifically, technically, and humanely appropriate.

Comments on the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals

After carefully reviewing the publications in this area since the last revision of The Guide in 1996, the Committee detected two separate issues:

  1. The number of publications in all the four areas addressed by The Guide has not increased as would have been expected based on the expansion and increase in the use of laboratory animals over the past 15 years. This is most likely attributed to the cuts in funding for the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) during the early 1990s (3,4). Progress in the area of Laboratory Animal Medicine and Science will only occur if there are appropriate sources of funding. 
  2. The scope of The Guide is very broad and its recommendations are used as benchmarks by many scientists. Changes in some of the base recommendations such as cage size, frequency of bedding and cage washing, and environmental enrichment may be required due to recent studies published that show certain modifications can improve the lives of laboratory animals (1,2,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13).

The Committee notes that there have been publications that increase the body of knowledge in many areas regarding the four main chapters of The Guide, making it imperative to update the literature cited and the appendixes. Additionally, The Guide should be accessible electronically, which would facilitate the ability of scientists to be well informed and up to date. This would enable NIH to constantly update the reference list and make all of the reference documents electronically accessible in their entirety. The Guide should also be available for download onto PDAs and other types of mobile electronic apparatus.


Ruth Berkelman, M.D., Chair, Public and Scientific Affairs Board
Michael Doyle, Ph.D., Chair, Committee on Agriculture and Food Microbiology
Susan Sanchez, Ph.D., Member, ASM

Reference List

  1. Baumans, V. 2005. Environmental enrichment for laboratory rodents and rabbits: requirements of rodents, rabbits, and research. ILAR.J. 46:162-170.
  2. Dillehay, D. L., N. D. M. Lehner, and M. J. Huerkamp. 1990. The Effectiveness of A Microisolator Cage System and Sentinel Mice for Controlling and Detecting Mhv and Sendai Virus-Infections. Laboratory Animal Science 40:367-370.
  3. Huerkamp, M. 2002. Efforts keep "pipeline" from drying up. Contemporary Topics in Laboratory Animal Science 41:7.
  4. Huerkamp, M. J. 2001. Re: Laboratory animal medicine in a time of crisis. Comparative Medicine 51:499.
  5.  Huerkamp, M. J., W. D. Thompson, and N. D. M. Lehner. 2003. Failed air supply to individually ventilated caging system causes acute hypoxia and mortality of rats. Contemporary Topics in Laboratory Animal Science 42:44-45.
  6. Hutchinson, E., A. Avery, and S. Vandewoude. 2005. Environmental enrichment for laboratory rodents. ILAR.J. 46:148-161.
  7. Myers, D. D., E. Smith, I. Schweitzer, J. D. Stockwell, B. J. Paigen, R. Bates, J. Palmer, and A. L. Smith. 2003. Assessing the risk of transmission of three infectious agents among mice housed in a negatively pressurized caging system. Contemp.Top.Lab Anim Sci. 42:16-21.
  8. Receveur, T. 2005. Balancing animal well-being, cost, and employee health and safety in caging design and selection. Contemp.Top.Lab Anim Sci. 44:68-71.
  9. Reeb-Whitaker, C. K., B. Paigen, W. G. Beamer, R. T. Bronson, G. A. Churchill, I. B. Schweitzer, and D. D. Myers. 2001. The impact of reduced frequency of cage changes on the health of mice housed in ventilated cages. Lab Anim 35:58-73.
  10. Sharp, J., T. Azar, and D. Lawson. 2005. Effects of a cage enrichment program on heart rate, blood pressure, and activity of male sprague-dawley and spontaneously hypertensive rats monitored by radiotelemetry. Contemp.Top.Lab Anim Sci. 44:32-40.
  11. Smith, A. L. and D. J. Corrow. 2005. Modifications to husbandry and housing conditions of laboratory rodents for improved well-being. ILAR.J. 46:140-147. 
  12. Smith, A. L., S. L. Mabus, J. D. Stockwell, and C. Muir. 2004. Effects of housing density and cage floor space on C57BL/6J mice. Comp Med. 54:656-663.
  13. Smith, A. L., S. L. Mabus, C. Muir, and Y. Woo. 2005. Effects of housing density and cage floor space on three strains of young adult inbred mice. Comp Med. 55:368-376.