Group says animals suffering

Animals will have suffered as a result of a parasitic worm outbreak in a University of Otago testing facility, Save Animals From Exploitation (Safe) says.

The concern comes after the university last week revealed it was considering shifting its animal testing labs into the Sayers Building after animals were recently infected with a type of parasitic worm.

Safe head of campaigns Mandy Carter said it was worried about the conditions animals were being kept in at Otago University.

''They are suffering with parasitic worms and not just the tests that are going on, which are often quite gruesome themselves.''

Safe, which was against animal testing completely, was also disappointed Otago University did not use this as an opportunity to scale back animal testing. It was also worried about what would happen to animals found to have contracted worms.

''If they become infected with something that's unrelated to the [research] being tested on it would compromise the [results].''

The fact the university was considering moving the whole facility suggested the outbreak was ''pretty major'', she said.

A university spokeswoman said it had resolved the parasitic worm outbreak by treating the infected animals.

''A new facility is a response to older facilities that are approaching the end of their usable life span.

''It will help to minimise the possibility of infections and will allow us to continue and maintain research of the highest quality,'' she said.

Asked if the infected animals compromised research, she said the university regularly carried out screening of its animals and researchers were informed of the results.

Infected animals were treated to remove the worms.

The university aimed to reduce animal usage, where it could. It previously said its animal research facilities underpinned about $20 million of annual research activity ''focused on important health and biomedical questions''.