Guinea Pig Health News for October 03 2017

A barrier facility within which personnel, equipment and animals move freely or where animals are kept in open cages. In addition to animal care staff, numerous researchers enter the experimental animal unit to conduct protocols. The design of the programme must be tailored to local needs and requires consideration of the microbiological unit(s), the animal species, the immune status and number of animals in the unit(s), the frequency of monitoring, which animals and sample(s) are to be collected, the organisms for which to test, the detection methods and the health history of the unit. Animals for testing and sampling The choice of animals and samples to test is important for accurate HM programme results. Resident animals In a breeding facility containing at least 100 animals of the same strain or stock, and kept in open cages under conventional handling procedures, the so-called ‘ILAR 186 Laboratory Animals 48(3) Table 7. Sentinel animals In some experimental and breeding units a number of factors, such as housing conditions, immunodeficiency of resident animals, or insufficiency of animals may not allow for the direct sampling of resident animals. Generally, sentinel animals should be of the same animal species as the population to be examined. 37,39 If serological methods are to be used, the sentinel animals should be immunocompetent young animals, which usually mount a good immune response. A disadvantage of immunodeficient animals is that they may serve as a source of persistent infection for the other resident animals. Sentinel animals may acquire infectious agents present in a microbiological unit by indirect or direct contact with colony animals. 40-42 Sentinel animals may also be fed from used feeding devices and drinking bottles or even housed in cages previously occupied by resident animals. Studies on rodents infected with some prevalent agents, such as parvoviruses, have shown that some infected animals are poor responders and may seroconvert slowly or not at all.37,38 Seroconversion also depends on the dose, biological attributes of the agent and the genetic composition, age and immune status of the infected animal.

Guinea pig

Guinea pigs were used in less than 13,000 scientific experiments in the UK in 2012, representing less than 1% of total animal research. The guinea pig is also widely used to provide tissues and organs for research. Guinea pig blood components are widely used, and isolated organ preparations such as guinea pig lung and intestine are extensively used in research to develop new medicines. Numerous developments have used guinea pig intestine at some point in their development, for example the anti-nausea drugs used by cancer patients and the identification of naturally occurring pain killing substances known as enkephalins. Guinea pig intestine has also been extensively used to study the ‘little brain’ in the gut, which contains as many nerve cells as the spinal cord. Guinea pigs’ airways are sensitive to allergens, so it has been widely used in asthma studies. Guinea pigs continue to be useful for the development of improved treatments for asthma, and they are also used in the testing of vaccines against anthrax, currently an important area of biodefence research, and new medicines to treat drug-resistant tuberculosis. The structure of the guinea pig ear is similar to that of humans, meaning that their hearing range is also similar. Guinea pigs are therefore a preferred animal model for studying auditory systems, and in 1961 Georg von Békésy was awarded a Nobel Prize for describing the mechanical mechanisms of the cochlea in guinea pigsANCHOR. Hair cells are sensory cells of the auditory system, which convert sound into an electrical signal. The sensitivity of the guinea pig to this and other infections, and the similarities of its immune defence system to that of humans, has made it important in the study of infectious diseases. A brief summary of how guinea pigs are used in research is available from Understanding Animal Research. Animal(s): Guinea pig Research field(s): Anatomy and development, Brain and nervous system, Digestion and nutrition, Disease characteristics, Drugs and toxins, Heart, lung and circulation, Infection and Immunity, Medical technologies Medical application(s): Basic research, Medicine.

The Guinea Pig Community

Some of you may remember some drama a little over a year ago after I adopted two adult boars, Blaster and Squeakers. On Sunday morning this week, I noticed Blaster wasn’t eating his veggies… or his pellets… or his hay. I took him straight to an animal hospital, who brought in an on-call exotics doctor to look at him, who told me his situation was indeed severe, and had him moved to intensive care immediately. At 10:30 that night I received the call that Blaster had departed for the Rainbow Bridge. Necropsy results indicate that it was a heart attack. I have no way of knowing if this is a new development or if he was a heart pig all along. He’s to be cremated and added to the hospital’s butterfly garden, since I’m living in an apartment and have no place to bury him. Tonight, I took down his cage and cleaned/rearranged Squeakers’s cage to take advantage of the old space. He’s a bit confused by the whole thing, and while he hated his neighbor/”Brother”, I like to think he’s sort of sad that Blaster isn’t there any more to pick on. Still, I hope he likes the pampering this brought on- brand new wood hut, new plastic pigloo, new fleece, new towels, all so fresh I was pulling shrinkwrap off the fleece and labels off the huts. It’s always tough to lose a loved one, but I’m thankful for the year and a quarter that Blaster spent with me! We’ll see you at the Rainbow Bridge, Blaster! Special shout-out to Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists in Houston, both in general and for having exotics-savvy vets on call for holidays and weekends! Both of my boys have had medical emergencies on days their regular vet was closed, and GCVS has helped me in situations their regular vet just didn’t have the means to handle.

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