Standard of Care for Specific Pathogen Free (SPF) Mice

Date adopted: May 2002

Date revised: March 6, 2015


The Department of Laboratory Animal Resources (LAR) maintains a specific pathogen free (SPF) animal area for SPF mice. The LAR staff will implement and monitor compliance with SPF standards of care and use of all SPF-designated mice. Violations will be recorded and reported to the IACUC through the IACUC Coordinator, IACUC Chair, or LAR personnel. Procedures for reporting violations to the IACUC are posted on the IACUC web site.

Policy Procedure:

  1. The Department of Laboratory Animal Resources and the IACUC have established that ALL mice housed or entering the Skaggs Building animal facilities will be maintained under SPF conditions. The rationale for this decision is based on:
    1. The need to maintain numerous mice under SPF conditions.
    2. Most investigators conduct experiments that require SPF mice. SPF mice are often shipped to other institutions for collaboration. Many institutions will not accept non-SPF mice.
    3. SPF mice are under high risk when housed near non-SPF rodents. Viruses, ecto- and endoparasites present a real risk to SPF mice that may be immunocompromised or have other specific traits, gene manipulations, etc.
    4. Contamination of SPF mice is very costly and results in an unacceptable waste of animals because contaminated mice must be sacrificed without justified experimental purpose.
    5. It places an undue burden on the animal care staff to try and maintain SPF and non-SPF colonies in the same facility.
  2. Personnel training for SPF animal care and use
    1. All SPF animal care and use personnel will be trained by LAR personnel on SPF protocols.
    2. All SPF trained personnel must follow the SPF care and use guidelines at all times.
  3. Entering and leaving SPF facilities
    1. Without exception: You cannot enter the SPF facility if you have previously been in a non-SPF rodent room that day unless you first change your clothes.
    2. Open-toed shoes are not allowed in any LAR animal facilities.
    3. Only LAR trained personnel or visitors accompanied by LAR trained personnel may enter the SPF facility.
    4. Use your Griz card for access. If you do not have a Griz card or Griz card access, you must sign in and out, and you must be accompanied by a trained user at all times.
    5. Outside lab coats are not allowed in the facilities as these can carry unwanted contaminants in and out of the facilities. Lab coats are provided inside the animal rooms (with extra coats provided upon request by the LAR staff).
    6. Decontaminate all carts and outside materials that are brought into the facility in the anteroom with an approved disinfectant.
    7. Place shoe covers over your shoes (provided in anteroom) when you enter the SPF facility. LAR staff may use facility-specific (north Skaggs or south Skaggs) shoes that are not worn outside the specified animal facility.
    8. Once you enter a mouse room, put on a room lab coat (white) and gloves provided inside the individual mouse rooms.
    9. When leaving the mouse room, take off gloves and mask (if used) and dispose in garbage can. Wash hands with soap and water. Remove the room lab coat (white) and hang on rack in room. Leave shoe covers on.
    10. Upon exiting the SPF animal facility, remove shoe covers as you step through the main door into the anteroom. Place all disposables in the garbage can provided.
  4. Receiving rodents under SPF conditions
    1. All rodents entering the facility must originate from an SPF facility or after sucessfully completing quarantine in LAR. Health reports documenting the SPF condition and care of the rodents previous to shipping must be sent to the AV for approval before the shipment can be accepted.
    2. LAR staff will follow established procedures for unpacking and housing SPF mice.
    3. Once mice exit an SPF facility, they may not reenter without explicit permission from the LAR Facility Manager.
  5. SPF protocol for care and use of mice
    1. All mice must be housed in microisolator cages. Each cage will have a cage card stating the number of animals contained in the cage, the PI, the IACUC protocol number, the strain of animal, birth date, wean date, and any other specific information. The cards must be completely filled out or this will be considered a violation.
    2. To enter a SPF room, immediately put on a lab coat followed by gloves, etc. Follow the same procedure when you leave: First discard gloves, masks, etc., and leave the lab coat in that room. Do NOT wear the same lab coat in another room or outside of that room. The lab coats are dedicated to each room.
    3. Before beginning work, wear gloves and clean the working surface with disinfectant. Avoid opening more than one cage at the same time. Disinfect your gloves between opening unrelated cages. Clean any bedding or feces from the working surface between unrelated cages and upon completion of your work.
    4. Mice should not be transferred between rooms without consulting with LAR staff and both principal investigators involved in the transfer. Inter-room transfers may be included as part of the animal use protocol. All cages leaving the facility must be returned to the dirty cage room in the Health Sciences building or South Skaggs unless otherwise directed by LAR personnel.
    5. Animals may only be returned to the facility with prior approval of the LAR Facility Manager. This is discouraged, but may be necessary for certain experiments.
      1. Disinfect the cages and the wheels of the cart by spraying them with disinfectant before returning them to the SPF facility.
  6. Serology
    1. Each SPF room will have serology conducted every 3 months on either sentinel mice or randomly selected and approved mice. Opti-spot blood sampling is sent to IDEXX-Radil for analysis.
    2. All health reports and serology reports and results will be provided to PIs by the LAR Facility Manager or IACUC Coordinator. Reports will be kept on file by LAR staff and will be available to all investigators upon request.
    3. Sick mice must be immediately reported to the LAR Facility Manager and/or AV. After evaluation, the Facility Manager and/or AV will recommend a suitable course of action be taken for the sick animal(s) which may include continued observation, treatment options or euthanasia.
    4. Any contamination or seropositive result will be confirmed via additional testing and then reported to all investigators within 24 hours so that extra precaution may be observed.