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Types of harm/adverse effects

Harms for animals can be physical (e.g. pain,

nausea, fever, skin irritation, convulsions) or

psychological (e.g. distress, behavioural

disorders, fear, anxiety, boredom) and, just as

in humans, these different types of harms can be

linked. For example, chronic pain can cause

depression, and boredom can exacerbate the

perception of pain.

It is important for the adverse effects to be

understood in terms of what they actually mean

for the animals (see box) and their degree and

duration must also be considered (see Chapter 4,

page 30 for discussion of severity of adverse

effects). This will depend on the species, strain,

sex, stage of development, and temperament and

experience of each individual animal.

Sources of harm

Physical or psychological suffering can occur at any stage from birth to death of the animals and may be caused by:

 animal sourcing, for instance in many standard breeding protocols, juvenile laboratory animals are separated

from their mother earlier than this would naturally occur, causing distress. This happens with rodents as well as

larger animals such as dogs and primates

 transport, even if it is just between laboratory buildings

 housing and husbandry, and whether or not this allows the animals to perform a wide variety of normal

behaviours such as social behaviour, foraging for food and exercise

 handling animals, which can cause stress in many species, or methods of restraint that confine the animals

more closely, especially for prolonged periods

 scientific procedures and their effects, including the cumulative effects of repeated interventions

 taking tissue, e.g. from the ear in mice, for 'genotyping' to test whether the animal has a desired genetic

alteration; or for identification purposes

 what happens to the animals at the end of the procedures, for example, how they are killed or whether

they are re-used or rehomed.

Understanding adverse effects

In a study where, for example, dogs are singly housed,

the adverse effect is not "single housing". That is just a

description of what will happen to the animals.

The real harms are lack of comfort and stimulation from

social contact, together with associated boredom and

frustration. Recognising the nature of harms in this way

gives everyone a better understanding of the impact of

the research on the animals and can help in identifying

ways of reducing and avoiding the adverse effects.

Index

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