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Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee

Guideline #1

Signs for Assessing Morbid and Moribund Rodents

These guidelines are intended for assessing morbidity, and impending mortality in rodents. Inexperienced personnel may not easily recognize signs associated with severe illness or distress in rodents, so consequently, knowing these sometimes subtle clinical manifestations can aid animal care personnel and researchers in providing optimum care.

Signs for Judging Morbidity (disease/illness) in Rodents

  • Rapid breathing rate
  • Breathing rate very slow, shallow, and labored
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Ruffled fur (rough hair coat)
  • Hunched posture
  • Hypothermia or hyperthermia
  • Ulcerative dermatitis or infected tumors
  • Inappetence
  • Diarrhea or constipation

Signs for Judging the Moribund Condition (state of dying) in Rodents

  • Signs for morbidity plus
  • Impaired ambulation (unable to reach food or water easily)
  • Evidence of muscle atrophy or other signs of emaciation (body weight is not always proportionate)
  • Any obvious prolonged illness including such signs as lethargy (drowsiness, aversion to activity, lack of physical or mental alertness), prolonged inappetence, bleeding, difficulty breathing, central nervous system disturbances, or chronic diarrhea or constipation
  • Inability to remain upright
  • Federal law authorizes veterinary staff to euthanize animals in states of unauthorized, uncontrolled pain or distress. The PI is strongly encouraged to work closely with KSU veterinary staff in cases where this situation may exist.

LAST REVIEWED AND ADOPTED BY THE IACUC: July 21, 2011