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Microbiological monitoring of laboratory mice and biocontainment in individually ventilated cages: a field study

Brielmeier, M, Mahabir, E, Needham, J R, Lengger, C, Wilhelm, P, Schmidt, J
Laboratory animals 2006 v.40 no.3 pp. 247-260
laboratory animals, sentinel animals, disease transmission, biosecurity, quarantine, ventilation systems, exhaust systems, disease surveillance, litter (bedding), air microbiology, animal diseases, Murine hepatitis virus, Mouse parvovirus 1, Syphacia obvelata, Trichomonas, Sarcomastigophora
Over recent years, the use of individually ventilated cage (IVC) rack systems in laboratory rodent facilities has increased. Since every cage in an IVC rack may be assumed to be a separate microbiological unit, comprehensive microbiological monitoring of animals kept in IVCs has become a challenging task, which may be addressed by the appropriate use of sentinel mice. Traditionally, these sentinels have been exposed to soiled bedding but more recently, the concept of exposure to exhaust air has been considered. The work reported here was aimed firstly at testing the efficiency of a sentinel-based microbiological monitoring programme under field conditions in a quarantine unit and in a multi-user unit with frequent imports of mouse colonies from various sources. Secondly, it was aimed at determining biocontainment of naturally infected mice kept in an IVC rack, which included breeding of the mice. Sentinels were exposed both to soiled bedding and to exhaust air. The mice which were used in the study carried prevalent infectious agents encountered in research animal facilities including mouse hepatitis virus (MHV), mouse parvovirus (MPV), intestinal flagellates and pinworms. Our data indicate that the sentinel-based health monitoring programme allowed rapid detection of MHV, intestinal flagellates and pinworms investigated by a combination of soiled bedding and exhaust air exposure. MHV was also detected by exposure to exhaust air only. The IVC rack used in this study provided biocontainment when infected mice were kept together with non-infected mice in separate cages in the same IVC rack.