Managing your Research Laboratory during a Pandemic

What is a Pandemic?

The recent pandemic outbreak of a new respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus, named “coronavirus disease 2019” (COVID-19) has us all facing unprecedented times. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines a pandemic when a new virus emerges to cause infection in people and can sustain human-to-human transmission. As there is little to no pre-existing immunity and no vaccine, the new virus can rapidly spread worldwide. On 3/11/2020, The World Health Organization (WHO) has characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic. The WHO defines the following 6 pandemic phases:

  • Phase 1: no animal viruses have been reported to cause infections in humans.
  • Phase 2: an animal virus is known to have caused infection in humans
  • Phase 3: a virus has caused sporadic cases/clusters 
  • Phase 4: verified human-to-human transmission
  • Phase 5: virus spread in at least two countries
  • Phase 6: PANDEMIC PHASE: outbreaks in at least one other country in a different WHO region. CDC further defines the pandemic phase with 6 pandemic intervals and a 5 category severity index scale (see below)
  • Post-peak period: pandemic disease levels in most countries have dropped below peak levels. A second wave is possible.
  • Post-pandemic: return to normal

Research Laboratories on the Front Line

Medical, health care and science professionals are on the front line, helping patients and looking for cures.  Research on laboratory animals is essential to understand disease mechanisms and enable the development of new drugs and therapies to improve the health and welfare of mankind. Mice and rats are most commonly used as their genetic, biological and behavioral characteristics closely resemble those of humans, and many symptoms of human conditions can be replicated. Their small size, ease of maintenance, and short breeding and life cycle make mice and rats convenient and efficient animal models.

So how do research institutes maintain their staff and their animals safe and healthy during a pandemic while supporting their scientific investigative mission? Our 4 part blog series will help answer those questions:

Part I: How to Care for your Laboratory Staff and Facilities During a Pandemic
Part II: How to Care for Your Laboratory Mice during a Pandemic
Part III: How to take care of yourself during quarantine
Part IV: How to plan for rodent colony repopulation after a pandemic


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