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Open Access Mousepox Resulting from Use of Ectromelia Virus-Contaminated, Imported Mouse Serum

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Mousepox was identified in a single mouse-holding room in early 1999 after a group of 20 CAF1/Hsd mice were inoculated SC with a killed murine spindle cell tumor line, S1509A. The cell line had been used without complications multiple times and was determined to be free of viral contamination on the basis of results of mouse antibody production testing. Of the 20 mice inoculated, 12 mice died by postinoculation day 8. Severe lymphoid and hepatic necrosis was observed in select mice subjected to histologic examination. Ballooning degeneration of epithelial cells with intracytoplasmic eosinophilic inclusion bodies was observed in the skin overlying the inoculation site of the single mouse from which this tissue site was evaluated. Presence of ectromelia virus was confirmed by use of immunohistochemical and polymerase chain reaction analyses, and the virus was isolated after serum, pooled from 5 of the index cases, was inoculated into an immune-naive mouse. Investigation into the source of virus contamination included inoculating mice with aliquots of various S1509A freeze dates; chemically defined media and supplements, including fetal bovine serum; and two lots of pooled commercial mouse sera, after heat inactivation at 56°C for 30 minutes used as a medium supplement. One lot of pooled commercial mouse serum was identified as the source of ectromelia virus. This lot of serum was inadvertently used to feed S1509A cells that were subsequently inoculated into mice. We determined that the contaminated serum, which was purchased in late 1998, originated from China. The serum was imported into the United States as a batch of 43 L in early 1995. The serum was blended into a single lot and filtered (0.2 m) before distribution to major suppliers throughout the country. The serum was sold or further processed to obtain a variety of serum-derived products. Because murine serum is generally sold in small aliquots (10 to 50 ml), we speculate that several thousand aliquots may have been derived from this batch of serum and, if inoculated into mice, would likely result in additional mousepox outbreaks.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2000-08-01

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  • Comparative Medicine (CM), an international journal of comparative and experimental medicine, is the leading English-language publication in the field and is ranked by the Science Citation Index in the upper third of all scientific journals. The mission of CM is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information that expands biomedical knowledge and promotes human and animal health through the study of laboratory animal disease, animal models of disease, and basic biologic mechanisms related to disease in people and animals.

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