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New USDA Inspection Shows 'Poor Sterilization Technique' In OHSU Animal Testing Lab

<p>Oregon Health and Science University.</p>

Alan Sylvestre

Oregon Health and Science University.

A routine inspection at one of Oregon Health & Science University’s animal testing laboratories has revealed unsanitary conditions and other issues.

The inspection report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture directs OHSU to improve its lab conditions. It outlined “poor sterile technique” during a surgery which resulted in a ferret being euthanized.

It also stated that training records were not current and that there were issues with cleanliness in the lab.

These are only the most recent examples of the university violating protocols.

“Just looking at the number of violations that are racked up in the inspection reports, I counted more than 20 from 2013 to the present,” said Dr. Alka Chandna, vice president of laboratory investigations with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

“That is really above average in an arena where you really don’t want to be above average.”

Chandna said there’s been no indication that this inspection report has been referred to the USDA’s investigative and enforcement services for further inspection, though, “we think that it should be,” she said.

Chandna said PETA will ask the National Institutes of Health to deny OHSU federal funds for animal testing. Though she said that outcome is unlikely, as the agency has only done that once before, in 1989, for Columbia University.

“OHSU secures a lot of federal funds, these are taxpayer dollars, going to the school for experiments on vulnerable animals,” Chandna said. “But these funds are dispersed under the understanding that the university will comply with very basic regulations and guidelines governing the treatment of animals.”

OHSU did not address the specific findings in this report, but Tamara Hargens-Bradley, the school’s associate director for strategic communications, said its staff is committed to providing humane treatment to lab subjects.

“PETA and other activist groups routinely repackage, republish and often misrepresent any unexpected adverse events or unforeseen outcomes involving animals at premier institutions throughout the world, including OHSU,” Hargens-Bradley said.

“OHSU understands and fully embraces the responsibility to provide compassionate and state-of-the-art health/veterinary care that comes with the privilege of working with animals.”

Copyright 2019 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Meerah Powell is a general assignment and breaking news reporter for OPB. She previously worked as a news reporter and podcast producer for Eugene Weekly in her hometown of Eugene, Oregon. Along with writing and audio work, Meerah also has experience with photography and videography. She graduated from the University of Oregon's School of Journalism and Communication.