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Finding ways to minimize pain and distress in research animals is a continuing goal in the laboratory animal research field. Pain and distress, however, are not synonymous, and often measures that alleviate one do not affect the other. Here, the authors provide a summary of a meeting held in February 2004 that focused on distress in laboratory animals. They discuss the difficulties associated with defining ‘distress,’ propose methods to aid in recognizing and alleviating distressful conditions, and provide recommendations for animal research conduct and oversight that would minimize distress experienced by laboratory animals.


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