Federal inspectors fault National Jewish Health for treatment of guinea pigs during smoking study
When the U.S. Department of Agriculture conducted a routine inspection of the lab at National Jewish Health in Denver earlier this year, it discovered research that had gone off the rails. One group of guinea pigs had been exposed to more smoke – five hours a day for six days – than the study’s approved guidelines called for. Two guinea pigs were described in research records that an inspector reviewed as having bloody discharge from the nose. On Monday, the animal-rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals filed a complaint with officials at the National Institutes of Health, seeking more information about the study.
Alka Chandna, a PETA vice president who specializes in laboratory oversight, said people don’t need to care about the suffering of guinea pigs to find the inspection report troubling. The departures from previously approved study protocols also places the research’s validity into question. In an email, a National Jewish spokesman said that the institution had made fixes as a result of the report. National Jewish Health is a 119-year-old health center focused on respiratory diseases. It also is a thriving research center, and Dormuth said National Jewish sometimes uses animals in its research.
There are about 20 research facilities in Colorado registered with the USDA to conduct studies on animals. Critical violations – which indicate that an animal died or was seriously harmed as the result of the violation – are uncommon. The USDA hit the University of Colorado with a critical violation in 2016 after two research rabbits escaped from an enclosure.
Concern over Ebola virus in pigs
A form of Ebola virus has been detected in pigs for the first time, raising concerns it could mutate and pose a new risk to humans. Ebola-Reston virus has only previously been seen in monkeys and humans – and has not caused illness. Researchers are concerned that pigs might provide a melting pot where the virus could mutate into something more menacing for humans. The researchers, from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stress that the virus at present appears to pose no risk to humans. It has been detected in farm workers who tend the infected pigs, and they have shown no signs of illness.
REBOV belongs to the family of filoviruses which usually target primates. These viruses cause viral haemorrhagic fevers, which cause extensive internal bleeding, and can be fatal. The latest study examined tissue samples taken from pigs from different parts of the Philippines suffering from unusually severe respiratory infections. Analysis showed that the animals were infected with widely varying strains of the virus, suggesting it may have circulated widely in pigs even before it was first discovered in monkeys exported to the US from the Philippines in 1989. The researchers said it was possible that REBOV originally emerged in another, as yet unidentified, host.
Pigs are known to provide an ideal host for viruses to mutate. Experts say the potential risk is magnified because they are an essential part of the human food chain, and come into close contact with people.
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The wild guinea pig lives on a diet of grasses and leaves and has developed a specialized gut which is adapted for this high fibre and coarse diet. The guinea pig passes the fibre through the gut twice to make sure all the nutrients are absorbed. Vitamin C. Guinea pigs are unique amongst our small pets, as like us, they cannot make their own vitamin C and must get it in their diet. We recommend 50 mg per adult guinea pig per day if there are no vegetables in thier diet, and 25 mg/day for those receiving good amounts of vegetables. 3) It is difficult to know how much Vitamin C the guinea pig has had in a day.
Orchard grass, botanical & mountain hay are also good choices as they are high fibre, low protein hays. Your guinea pig must have 24 hour access to loose hay. Young, pregnant, sick or old guinea pigs should be given more pellets. These are an important source of vitamins, and most pigs love them. Sticking with one or two vegetables may lead to dietary imbalances or problems, even if these are your guinea pig’s favourites.
Do not give larger amounts in an attempt to supply vitamin C. Guinea pig snacks and sweeties, seeds, nuts and biscuits are very unhealthy and should not be given. Upsetting the gut causes bacterial imbalances and may kill your guinea pig.