Alerting on Animal Health

Animal welfare is a high priority in animal research. Respectful and responsible care of animals is aimed at minimizing stress and discomfort of the animal while enhancing the collection of accurate and reproducible scientific data.

Many robust indicators of animal health exist today, which can be used to assess animal welfare and predict mortality including activity, breathing rates, body weight and body temperature (1-3).

The Vium platform capitalizes on the existing knowledge surrounding animal health, but improves the efficiency and reliability of identifying sick animals by automating the process of collection and analysis of health indicator data on a continuous basis. Researchers and animal care staff are alerted daily to animals with potential declining health or onset of disease symptoms.

Animal Alerting Workflow on Vium's Digital Platform

Figure 1. Workflow demonstrating how digital biomarker data is collected from the Vium platform, processed into raw data and used to assess changes to animals behavior that may be indicative of changes to their health status.

Animal Alerting allows Researchers to:

• Objectively collect indicators of animal health and well-being using automated digital biomarkers without disturbing the animals 

• Receive daily notifications for animals with changes indicative of changes in health status or onset of disease state

• Reduce the number of found dead animals thereby improving study power and scientific outcomes

• Minimize animal handling that may inadvertently lead to stress and alter study results

Development and Use Cases

To develop reliable alerting algorithms, historical data collected from rodents that represent a diverse range of therapeutic models including inflammation, respiratory, oncology, metabolism, and aging disorders, were analyzed to identify patterns in digital biomarkers that were associated with sick animals, but absent in healthy controls. Currently, this alerting system detects abnormal physiological and behavioral changes associated with decreases in motion and changes in breathing rate.

The system was designed to enhance the ability of vivarium staff and researchers to automatically identify animals that:

1) require more careful observation

2) need medical attention

3) should be humanely euthanized, without the need to handle healthier animals.

References:

    1. Ray MA, Johnston NA, Verhulst S, Trammell RA, Toth LA. (2010) Identification of markers for imminent death in mice used in longevity and aging research. JAALAS 49: 282-288.
    2. Trammell RA, Toth LA. (2011) Markers for predicting death as an outcome for mice used in infectious disease research. Comp Med 61: 492-498.
    3. Nunamaker EA, Artwohl JE, Anderson RJ, Fortman JD. (2013) Endpoint refinement for total body irradiation of C57BL/6 mice. Comp Med 63: 22-28.
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