The microbiological status of laboratory animals is a direct result of the way an animal house is used. It is influenced to a high degree by the colony management practices, by the number of scienists, who have access to the facility, by the frequency of imports of animals into a facility, by the design of the facility etc.
The microbiological status of our animals is monitored by a sentinel program (soiled bedding sentinels, contact sentinels). It is performed on a regular basis to detect unwanted microorganisms as soon as possible.
Our sentinel program is based on the following assumptions:
- Random sampling is not possible (experimental unit, genetically modified mice). Therefore sentinels have to be used, which act as surveillance substitutes.
- Infections can be detected by standardised sentinel mice.
- Random distribuation of infection.
- Both sexes are infected at the same rate.
- Each animal room has to be considered as microbiological entity.
- Each animal room houses more than 100 mice.
Immunocompetent sentinels derived from breeding colonies of known microbiological status are obtained from commercial breeders (Charles River Laboratories, Harlan, Janvier etc.).
Although we try to maintain a stable health status of our colonies, according to FELASA our animal facility has to be considered as "high risk animal house" concerning the risk of introducing agents into an experimental unit.
High risk (FELASA):
- Multipurpose units with various kinds of experiments: YES, APPLICABLE
- Frequent introduction of animals (> 16per month): YES, APPLICABLE
- Frequent entry of research personnel in addition to animal care staff: YES, APPLICABLE
- Frequent change of personnel working in the unit: YES, APPLICABLE
- Introduction of animals from different breeding units (from one or several breeders): YES, APPLICABLE
- Introduction of biological materials (e.g. sera, tumours, tissues, (ES) cells) originating from the same animal species that are housed in the unit: YES, APPLICABLE
- Infected animals on the site: NO, NOT APPLICABLE SO FAR
Medium risk (FELASA):
- Occasional introduction of animals: NO, NOT APPLICABLE
- One or few types of experiments: NO, NOT APPLICABLE
- Long-term experiments (only occasional introduction of animals): NO, NOT APPLICABLE
- ‘All in–all out’ system: NO, NOT APPLICABLE
- Introduction of chemicals only, no biological materials: NO, NOT APPLICABLE
The animal rooms must not be considered as isolated and contained areas. This means the health status, which is valid for one single room is valid for all other rooms behind the barrier. If one room shows a positive result for a specific pathogen all other rooms have to be considered as positive for this pathogen too. The area with the worst health status defines the health status of all other rooms.
Therefore please consider before entering the facility, that everything, which is not done in the appropriate way perhaps will jeopardize our attempts to keep our mousehouse as clean as possible.
Our periodic colony health surveillance comprises:
A. Main serological investigation, every 22 weeks:
Our serological panel:
- Mouse hepatitis virus (MHV)
- Reovirus type 3 (Reo 3)
- Theiler’s murine encephalomyelitis virus (TMEV)
- Pneumonia virus of mice (PVM)
- Sendai virus
- Minute virus of mice (MVM)
- Mouse parvo virus (MPV)
- Ectromelia virus
- LCMV (Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus)
- Mouse adenovirus (MAd)
- Mouse polyomavirus
- Mouse Norovirus (MNV)
- Pasteurella pneumotropica
- Clostridium piliforme
- Mycoplasma pulmonis/arthritidis
- Toxoplasma gondii
Summary of results (see current health certificate):
Some of our sentinel mice test positive for Helicobacter spp., Mouse Norovirus and endoparasites as well as for Past. spp. (no clinical signs and symptoms). This means our colonies are not specified pathogen free (SPF) for Helicobacter, Norovirus, Pateurella and endoparasites, but at present they are SPF for all other checked pathogens (MHV, Parvovirus, ectoparasites etc.)
Since sentinels mirror the health status of mouse colonies on the day of investigation, they cannot be taken as guarantee of the present or future health-status.
B. Whole animal investigation according FELASA 52m, every 22 weeks always 12 weeks after the last main serology.
This investigation comprises serology again and in addition culture, dissection and parasitology.