NPR’s “All Things Considered” did a piece this week about what the shutdown means for thousands of lab mice used in medical research at government facilities. In a word, death.
There simply are not enough people to keep important and special strains of mice alive at the NIH. Many of these lines of mice took years to create. Now all that work could be gone in weeks. Entire lines may be killed.
Experiments that have taken years to get going will be back to square one. I have been involved with animal experiments that have to start over, usually due to an infection throughout the facility. It can a long time to get the mice back to normal. Stressed mice do not breed well. Stressed mice die easier. Stressed mice can change the results of lab experiments.
It can take months and a lot of money to try an revive these lines. If they can be.
The NIH had maybe 300,000 mice. A female produces up to 10 pups and can do this every 21 days. Even if males and females were separated on the day of the shutdown by the minimal staff present, there would still be pregnant females having pups for weeks. With no room to put them.
So unless care is taken, the facility can rapidly become overcrowded, with stressed out mice. Mice will have to be killed.
For no reason other than the shutdown.