The University of Otago's
plan to relocate its animal testing facility after the spread
of a parasitic worm has been put on hold while a preferred
site is chosen.
This comes after medical students strongly opposed a proposal
to move the labs to Sayers Building, where the medical
library is housed.
Students were worried this would mean the loss of their only
dedicated study space in the university's health precinct.
A report tabled at last week's university council meeting
said the project had been delayed ''pending a final decision
on the preferred site''.
As of the end of June, $1.498 million had been spent on
planning for the replacement animal testing facility, against
a budget of $1.657 million.
A university spokeswoman said this week consultation with
staff and students on the project was continuing and the
decision on where to build the facility would be part of this
''As indicated previously in the priority development plan,
the project is in the planning stage, with construction not
due to start until early [next year], assuming the university
council approves the project.''
Asked about the cause of the spread of pinworm among the
animals, which has now been halted, the spokeswoman said:
''The source of the pinworm infection is unknown and there is
no indication that this had anything to do with safety
The spokeswoman said parasitic worms were common in animals,
which was why pet owners and farmers regularly treated their
The spokeswoman did not respond to a question on whether the
spread of pinworms had hampered research, saying only that
once the infection was identified, ''immediate steps were
taken to stop its spread and the issue was resolved''.
''Important medical research into the mechanisms and causes
of diseases that are present in the human population
The university previously said its animal research facilities
underpinned about $20 million of annual research activity
''focused on important health and biomedical questions''.