Letter of Complaint to USDA About University of Kansas Medical Center

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Dr. Robert Gibbens
Director, Western Region
2150 Centre Ave.
Building B, Mailstop 3W11
Fort Collins, CO 80526-8117

Dr. Gibbens,

I am contacting you on a matter of the utmost importance, the health and well-being of animals at the University of Kansas Medical Center 48-R-0003.

I am aware of several recent inspections that your staff performed regarding this facility. Clearly this laboratory has major problems as illustrated by the citations relevant to primates 2A0; 99R1027, 0A0, and 3A0 describe incidents of severe negligence by University of Kansas staff which resulted in extreme suffering for the animals involved in experimentation at UK.

However, I believe that these other situations at this facility which are also indicative of severe negligence. Two primates 1924 and 1941 (records attached) died of dehydration on Monday, 3/31/08. This took place after the facility had had problems with water pressure over the weekend. Both of these primates were found moribund (at the point of death). While the lab did initiate therapy, these primates should not have reached this point of severe dehydration. In fact, primate 1924 went into seizures later that day, even after receiving fluid therapy. As you know, seizures are associated with severe cases of dehydration. Clearly, these animals had not had access to water for a significant period of time to reach a point of such severe dehydration. This is a horrible way to die, and this facility deserves severe punishment.

Additionally, primate 1925 died on 3/29/08. This monkey was found on 2/29 to be moribund, hypothermic, non-responsive. This monkey also had a seizure, which can be associated with severe dehydration. And this monkey was found dead two days before 1924 and 1941. I have to wonder if 1925 succumbed to the same fate as 1924 and 1941. The death of this animal should be investigated because it may also be related to dehydration. I believe that these deaths represent violations of the animal welfare act regarding failure to provide adequate water to primates as well as instances of inadequate observation and care.

Primate 3A5 is listed as having “increased agitation and stress from morphine withdrawal” on 8/4/2009. The afternoon observation of the same date states “Patient is agitated and vocalizing more. Apears to be more aggressive and keeps moving from perch to floor and back. . . . Patient is screeching very loudly when moving and grimacing a lot. Muscle tremors noted along with laying down in cage. . . . PM (8:00) – Severe muscle tremors noted to the point that animal could not control his right leg and started to bite it – no lacerations or punctures noted.”

On 8/5/2009 primate 3A5 is describes as ” . . . similar to last night, severe muscle tremors when moving, a little ataxia with grimacing and screeching. . . Noon – Patient is doing better, significant tremors still noted, but screeching has decreased, appetite and fluid consumption is good. Face is a little flushed as well as mildly swollen on the right side. Afternoon/evening – Patient is very aggressive. . . . Only about 20% of the Gatorade is gone from the am. Face is still flushed with possible hives.” On 8/6/2009 “PM observation – Patient is having increased muscle tremors of legs and arms, will try and bite at feet if a large tremor occurs. No puncture wounds or lacerations noted on feet or legs.”

On 8/21/2009 3A5 is listed as “patient with vomit in cage yesterday afternoon and this am.” On 8/25/2009 the record states “Vomit all over cage and floor in front of cage. Food left in cage. . . . Right testicle is enlarged and left testicle is very small. Monkey is reserved today and will get up on perch only when approached.” ON 8/26/2009 the record states “his testicles are swollen, enlarged and scrotum has purplish hue. His eyes are sunken, area around eyes are puffy and his pupils are dialated. He appears to be in pain from swollen scrotum. He will only move off of floor of cage with allot of stimulation. . . . PI is consulting . . . about options.” On 8/27/2009 the record states “Monkey is very subdued and curled up on perch – will only move when stimulated a lot. Eyes are shrunken and dialated. Hair coat is spiked. Testicles are swollen, hard, and scrotum has purplish hue. Monkey did eat his biscuits, but it appeared that he vomited overnight.” 3A5 was apparently killed that day because a necropsy was performed. The records do not contain information on when the euthanasia was performed, what drug was used, what dosage was given, etc. Also, this animal suffered for days, and should have been euthanized sooner, not dissimilarly to animal 3A0 previously mentioned above.

Primate84Z is listed in records as being on treatment with antibiotics from 7/29/09 – the morning of 8/4/2009 at which time the antibiotics were discontinued due to potential complications when the primate is put into morphine withdrawal, apparently as part of the protocol. Why was the protocol not delayed until this animal had completed antibiotic therapy? Why is an animal that is clearly suffering from a bacterial infection then thrown into morphine withdrawal?

On 8/4/2009 primate 84Z is described as “Patient is screeching a lot, grimacing noted as well. Patient is laying down in the bottom of the cage and will only move when stimulated. Muscle tremors noted. Appetite is decreased – no biscuits eaten, but has eaten fruit. . . . Evening obs (8PM) – Patient is down in the bottom of the cage laying on his side. Will move when stimulated, but very reluctant. Screeching is excessive and grimacing noted when ever moving, mild muscle tremors noted. Appetite is still decreased, has eaten some of the fruit provided, but no biscuits. He has not touched the Gatorade.”

On 8/5/2009 his record states “Am observations – patient is very reluctant to move on stimulation. Once he got up, he screeched once and then fell back over. Moderate muscle tremors noted. Appetite is severely decreased, a couple of biscuits eaten and some fruit. . . . PM observation-Patient is sitting up on the floor, but reluctant to move, even when squeeze was used. No screeching noted, but muscle tremors are present and significant.

On 8/6/2009 his record states: Am Observation – Patient is sitting up this am, but still reluctant to move. Face is very red, but screeching was not noted this am. Appetite is still decreased with only a small amount of fruit eaten, no biscuits. . . . . Noon – Patient is down in cage and not responding to stimulation. Notify PI and continue supportive care. Afternoon – PI gave one does of morphine to try and off set withdrawal signs, no progress. Patient is down and only minimally responsive. . . . . 10:00 PM – Patient is euthanized per PI protocol.

In contrast to the record of primate 3A5, 84Z did not receive any rimadyl for pain relief. I also believe that this animal should have been euthanized sooner. Regarding both monkey 84Z and 3A5 the facility failed to euthanize these animals in a timely fashion and allowed them to suffer unnecessarily. It is also clear that these animals suffered unrelieved pain, and if they were not reported this way on the annual report filed by the University of Kansas Medical Center 48-r-0003, then this facility has violated requirements for reporting animals used in potentially painful experiments without anesthesia (column E). In fact, it appears that this lab may have violated these reporting requirements because experiments have been underway at this facility for several years which involve subjecting monkeys to withdrawal from addiction to morphine. Clearly, some of these animals have experienced unrelieved pain, However, this laboratory has not reported any monkeys in this category during 2006, 2007, or 2008.

Also, several monkeys at this have experienced fatal gastric bloat. These conditions have only been noticed when the animals are near death. They have included monkey A62, 94B and 99R1463. The records which I have obtained also discuss primate 21802. This monkey is also found moribund his record states: “Patient down, but minimally responsive. Very cold to touch. Evidence of hemorrhagic diarrhea round rectum. Pupils dilated and sluggish. . . . Temp started at approx 75.5 degrees F. . . . approximately 2 hours post treatment, patient had an episode of severe hemorrhagic diarrhea and went into respiratory arrest. Attempts to resuscitate failed.” Clearly this monkey had been allowed to decline to an unacceptable level. The record states “history of mild diarrhea off and on for several months. Patient was on Pedialyte during the diarrheal events but no other treatment offered per PI protocol.” Clearly this animal did not receive adequate treatment. Severe hemorrhagic diarrhea should be treated with much more than Pedialyte.

It is clear that the incidents which have been documented in the attached records which were obtained from the University of Kansas Medical Center through the state public records act. These documents clearly illustrate inadequate animal care which has allowed several animals to dies of dehydration, inadequate veterinary care which allowed several animals to suffer unnecessarily due to unreasonably delayed euthanasia, and a high incidence of death by gastric bloat which can be due to improper feeding of primates.

Also, it is clear that several of these primates have experienced unrelieved pain and distress and that University of Kansas Medical Center should be listing all primates used in experimentation that experience drug withdrawal in column E. It is apparent that this has not been the case, and that the lab has filed fraudulent reports.

Therefore, I officially request the treatment of the primates mentioned in this Official Complaint and take the most serious action allowable by the Animal Welfare Act against the University of Kansas Medical Center.

Michael A. Budkie, A.H.T.,
Executive Director, SAEN

Sec. 2.33 Attending veterinarian and adequate veterinary care.

(b) Each research facility shall establish and maintain programs of adequate veterinary care that include: (1) The availability of appropriate facilities, personnel, equipment, and services to comply with the provisions of this subchapter; (2) The use of appropriate methods to prevent, control, diagnose, and treat diseases and injuries, and the availability of emergency, weekend, and holiday care; (3) Daily observation of all animals to assess their health and well-being;

Sec. 2.36 Annual report.

(7) State the common names and the numbers of animals upon which teaching, experiments, research, surgery, or tests were conducted involving accompanying pain or distress to the animals and for which the use of appropriate anesthetic, analgesic, or tranquilizing drugs would have adversely affected the procedures, results, or interpretation of the teaching, research, experiments, surgery, or tests. An explanation of the procedures producing pain or distress in these animals and the reasons such drugs were not used shall be attached to the annual report;

See Also:
University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS
University of Kansas Medical Center faces animal cruelty complaint - 26 May 2010
Lab monkeys at KU Medical Center suffered neglect, group alleges - 26 May 2010
Animal rights group files complaint against KU Med - 26 May 2010
26 May 2010 - Watchdog Group calls for new Federal Probe of KU; KU Medical Center implicated in Monkey Dehydration Deaths

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