DVR operates multiple cage wash facilities on the NIH Bethesda campus and at the NIH Animal Center in Poolesville. These facilities provide cleaning, sanitization, preparation, and sterilization of animal caging for its facilities and the NIH community. Most of the DVR animal facilities contain internal cage wash operations capable of providing all cleaning and preparation needs for the research protocols contained within. All facilities are staffed with dedicated personnel trained to operate and provide routine maintenance for all equipment.
Additionally, DVR operates a stand-alone cage wash facility on the Bethesda campus which is the backup for all NIH animal facilities cage wash operations, providing support during shutdowns due to maintenance, facility renovations, and emergency situations.
Most DVR Cage wash facilities employ both tunnel and rack/cabinet washing units with the ability to process rodent and large animal caging. These cage wash facilities contain animal waste management systems allowing for the removal of animal bedding and waste from caging without the need for internal facility dumping stations. DVR also maintains automatic bedding and water dispensing equipment in many of its facilities and some have the ability to provide hyper-chlorinated and acidified water. Autoclaving services are available in most DVR facilities and some of the facilities have bulk autoclaves capable of processing large quantities of caging and equipment in a standard cycle.
DVR cage wash facilities adhere to strict procedures and guidelines for equipment maintenance, as well as sanitation and sterilization monitoring. Cage wash equipment is maintained on preventative maintenance contracts and undergo regular cleaning and certification, where appropriate. Sanitation and sterilization monitoring is performed using standard methods such as temperature tapes and chemical indicator strips (steam strips), as well as biological monitoring via Adenosine Triphosphate testing and biological indicators for autoclave cycle verification. All facilities maintain detailed records to ensure adherence with AAALAC requirements.