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National Jewish Health hit with ‘critical' violation over treatment of guinea pigs

Posted at 12:07 PM, May 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-22 14:07:10-04

DENVER – The study was supposed to expose guinea pigs to cigarette smoke a few hours a day, five days a week inside a specially designed “smoking machine.”

But, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture conducted a routine inspection of the lab at National Jewish Health in Denver earlier this year, it discovered research that had gone off the rails.

One group of guinea pigs had been exposed to more smoke — five hours a day for six days — than the study’s approved guidelines called for. Two guinea pigs were described in research records that an inspector reviewed as having bloody discharge from the nose. One of those had to be euthanized after also being observed with labored breathing and displaying “vocalization.” And medicine that was supposed to be administered to the guinea pigs during the study had been given after the animals’ exposure to smoke ended because the researcher didn’t obtain it in time.

The failings caused the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the USDA to hit National Jewish last month with a “critical” violation of animal welfare practices. On Monday, the animal-rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals filed a complaint with officials at the National Institutes of Health, seeking more information about the study.

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