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Animal-Derived Substances and IBC Approval: Answering Questions About Swine and Ruminant Materials

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Research that involves certain types of animal-derived substances โ€“ including materials from swine and ruminants โ€“ requires advance approval from the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC)

This requirement applies to research with tissues, fluids, and/or cells from:

  • NHPs
  • Ruminants
  • Swine
  • Chickens or other fowl
  • Wild vertebrate animals

Expand each section below for answers to several frequently asked questions.

The IBC requires Biosafety Level 2 (BSL2) precautions for handling these materials because bacteria with zoonotic potential can be present asymptomatically in healthy swine and ruminants.

For ruminants, this can include pathogenic E. coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, Corynebacterium sp, Erysipelothrix, Coxiella burnetti, Listeria, Chlamydophila, and certain prion species.

For pigs, it includes Salmonella, Campylobacter, Clostridial sp, Erysipelothrix, and Streptococcus suis1 (the latter is commensal in up to 80% of young pigs and is a potential cause of meningitis for humans). 

Commensal bacterial agents in swine or ruminants can be infectious and necropsy inherently carries some risk of exposure. Even if the target tissue is of low infectious likelihood, there is risk of exposure because the entire animal body is present on the necropsy table and bacterial contamination of the environment can occur.

Intestine and central nervous system (CNS; e.g., brain and spinal cord) material are considered the highest risk tissues for exposure to zoonotic agents of concern in these species.

BSL2 practices should be tailored to the setting and procedure. Common BSL2 precautions, such as use of a biosafety cabinet, are often not feasible when working with large animals. However, other risk mitigation procedures are effective, and many large animal researchers are already employing these measures.

For example, effective mitigation practices for large animal necropsy may be as simple as donning appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), disinfection practices, and ensuring that all lab staff are aware of potential zoonotic agents.

Some procedures will require additional mitigation strategies: When using an oscillating saw to cut bone, an N95 mask would be recommended due to aerosolization of bone fragments and bacteria from the carcass.2

IBC review and Environment, Health & Safety (EHS) consultation is critical for determining the appropriate mitigation strategies for your procedures. EHS can also help ensure that you are able to employ the necessary precautions in the specific space where your work is to occur.

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Footnotes

  1. Feng, Y et al. (2014). Streptococcus suis infection: an emerging/reemerging challenge of bacterial infectious diseases?. Virulence, 5(4), 477โ€“497. PMC4063810 โ†ฉ๏ธŽ
  2. Pluim, J et al. (2018). Aerosol production during autopsies: The risk of sawing in bone. Forensic science international, 289, 260โ€“267. PMC7126880 โ†ฉ๏ธŽ

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