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Washington State University

Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee

Standard Operating Procedures for Monitoring Sanitation Practices [VS-001]

Purpose: The Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (Guide) states "Monitoring of sanitation practices should be appropriate to the process and materials being cleaned: it can include visual inspection of the materials, monitoring of water temperatures, or microbiological monitoring." An effective sanitation monitoring program helps ensure established cleaning procedures are being followed and are effective.

Described below are various procedures employed in sanitizing caging and equipment used in animal care and the monitoring protocols to be used to ensure adequate sanitation is being achieved.


 

HAND-WASHED EQUIPMENT : Cleaning items by hand-washing relies on physical removal of dirt, debris and scale and the used of an effective disinfectant agent to sanitize items. Items which are hand-washed on a regular basis must be monitored regularly to ensure sanitation is being achieved and the protocol being followed is effective.

  • Visual Monitoring: Cages/runs/equipment which are hand-washed should be inspected after each washing to ensure items appear clean. All visible dirt, debris and scale should be removed by the washing process. If items do not appear clean, items must be re-washed prior to use.
  • Bacteriological Monitoring: In order to ensure the hand-washing protocol is sanitizing all surfaces of the cages/equipment effective, washed items should be monitored bacteriologically. Items used for feeding such as feed/water bowls, water bottles, and sipper tubes as well as small primary enclosures such as small rodent or bird cages should be monitored quarterly. Larger items such as runs, stalls, and rooms should be monitored quarterly, with frequency increased as determined. Sterile culturette swabs are used to sample insides of lixits, sipper tubes and water bottles. RODAC plates will be used to sample larger items. Plates and swabs are processed using the "Standard Operating Procedures for Processing Samples Submitted for Sanitation Monitoring". If culture results indicate marginal or unsatisfactory sanitation, further monitoring should be performed and hand-washing protocol may require modification.

COMMERCIAL CAGE WASHING UNITS : Cage washing units rely on water pressure and either high temperatures (180 F) OR disinfectant agents to achieve cleanliness and sanitation. Cage washers must be monitored on a regular basis to ensure unit is working properly and adequate sanitation is being accomplished.

  • Visual Monitoring: Items washed in commercial cage washer should be inspected after each load to ensure items appear clean. All visible dirt and scale should be removed by the washing process. If items do not appear clean, items must be re-washed prior to use and unit should be evaluated by a qualified service technician.
  • Temperature Monitoring: If high temperature (180 F) is the mode of disinfection of the cage washing unit, an adhesive, heat-sensitive tape should be run through the washing unit with cages/equipment once per week. The tape should be dated and stored in a permanent record. If the tape indicates the washing unit did not reach sanitation temperature (180 F), additional monitoring should be performed. If continued testing indicates unsatisfactory results, unit should be evaluated by a qualified service technician. The facility supervisor is to inform the Office of the Campus Veterinarian of system failures. Until such time as the equipment failure is corrected, bacteriological monitoring should occur on random samples weekly with the frequency reduced if proper sanitation is shown initially. If counts are high, a reputable vendor for disinfectants should be consulted to obtain a chemical that will compensate for the lower temperature.
  • Bacteriological Monitoring: In order to ensure the cage washing unit is sanitizing all surfaces of the cages/equipment effectively, washed items should be monitored bacteriologically quarterly . Several freshly cleaned items are randomly selected for testing using RODAC agar plates. Sterile culturette swabs are used to sample insides of lixits, sipper tubes and water bottles. Plates and swabs are processed using the " Standard Operating Procedures for Processing Samples Submitted for Sanitation Monitoring". If culture results indicate marginal or unsatisfactory sanitation, further monitoring should be performed and the cage washing unit will need to be evaluated and service by a qualified service technician. See above.
     

AUTOCLAVE UNITS : Autoclave units used to sterilize caging and equipment used inanimal care must be monitored on a regular basis to ensure unit is working properly and sterilization is being achieved.

  • A steam sterilization integrator strip should be run with each load processed in the autoclave unit. Color change indicates sterilization criteria was met. The strip should be dated and stored in a permanent record. Strips should be placed inside the item to be sterilized to ensure interior surfaces are adequatly sterilized. If bulk supplies are being autoclaved (i.e. bedding, feed, wrapped packs, etc.), strip should be placed/buried within the material/pack. If integrator strip indicates sterilization criteria was not met, further monitoring should be performed and the unit should be evaluated and serviced by a qualified service technician. The Office of the Campus Veterinarian is to be notified.
  • A biological indicator should be used to test autoclave units on a regular basis. If items are autoclave frequently, the unit should be tested at least twice per month. Biological Indicators are test vials containing growth medium and spores of Bacillus organisms. Personnel should follow manufacturer instructions for performing biological indicator tests. A record should be kept of biological indicator test results. If biological indicator indicates sterilization criteria was not met, the Office of the Campus Veterinarian is to be notified to assess the process and further monitoring should be performed. The unit should be evaluated and serviced by a qualified service technician.

Any facility in need of assistance with sanitation monitoring procedures should contact the Office of the Campus Veterinarian at 509/335-6246

Originally Approved by IACUC: April 20, 1999
Revised and re-approved by the IACUC:
May 15, 2002

 
 
                     
                         
                         
 
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