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Charite hospital kills over 1,000 test animals

Wesley Dockery
December 17, 2021

The prominent Berlin medical institution said the animals had to be killed due to contamination risks. Charite claimed it consulted with city authorities prior to making the decision.

Animal testing involving mice at Berlin's Charite hospital
Animal experiments, such as testing on mice, are legal in GermanyImage: Rolf Kremming/picture alliance

Berlin's Charite hospital said Friday it had killed over 1,000 test animals due to contamination concerns from the Coxiella bacteria. 

What do we know so far?

The medical institution said that "around 1,200 small rodents" were killed in the testing laboratory after contaminants were repeatedly traced to the area where the animals were kept. 

Coxiella is asymptomatic in animals, but it can cause Q fever in humans. Humans infected by Q fever typically experience flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills and tiredness. 

Humans near the animals who carry Coxiella bacteria can be infected by inhaling dust or droplets. The bacteria is not transmissible from human to human. 

The area where the bacteria was found has been closed off from further research until it can be completely decontaminated, the hospital said.

Charite said it consulted with the Berlin State Office for Health and Social Affairs and other city authorities prior to making the decision to kill the animals.

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Hospital regrets killing of test animals

The hospital said it regrets the "necessity of killing the test animals."

Animal testing is legal in Germany, but methods must comply with the Animal Welfare Act, which was enacted in 1972. Animal experiments can be conducted if they are necessary to prevent, diagnose and treat diseases in humans or animals. 

At the same time, animal welfare groups, such as the German Animal Welfare Foundation, have criticized the rise of animal testing in Germany in recent years and called for the government to fund more research into alternative methods. 

The EU has effectively banned animal testing for cosmetics since 2009. EU lawmakers approved a non-binding resolution in September calling on the executive to draw up a plan to phase out all forms of testing across the bloc.

Edited by: Sean Sinico