What can we learn from established health monitoring practice for other species?


Jeffrey Needham, The Microbiology Laboratories, London & Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, Oslo



Health monitoring/health screening of laboratory animals is a form of health control that also has a great impact on the welfare of the animals. Health control has been practised for many years as even at the beginning of the last century Governments controlled the health of farm animals and animals crossing borders.


In the early 1950's health control started seriously with mammalian laboratory animals in the United Kingdom and was administered by the Medical Research Council.  These controls were primarily aimed at ensuring a standard quality of animal from laboratory animal breeders.  At the end of the 20th Century this was refined by FELASA with two sets of guidelines, one for the breeding of animals and the other for animals in experiments and recently both were combined within one new set of guidelines.


What is now standard practice with mammals is not directly applicable to fish.  There are no dedicated suppliers of fish, breeding fish for laboratory use only.  Therefore controls on the supply are much more difficult to organise.  In addition the environment of the fish ie water makes the direct transfer of mammalian practice almost impossible.


However there are some areas where fish can be regarded in the same way as mammalian laboratory animals and examples of this are the statistics involved in determining sample sizes and the laboratory technology.


The paper will discuss the similarities and differences in more detail.