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Open Access Administration of Vaccinia Virus to Mice May Cause Contact or Bedding Sentinel Mice to Test Positive for Orthopoxvirus Antibodies: Case Report and Follow-up Investigation

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Routine testing of bedding sentinels from a barrier room revealed one mouse seropositive to ectromelia virus (EV). Results of hemagglutination-inhibition testing and western blot analysis were confirmatory for orthopoxvirus antibodies. Additional seropositive animals were not identified. Interviews indicated that replication-competent vaccinia virus (VV), Western Reserve strain (VV-WR), recently had been given to mice. Although VV-WR was not expected to spread by contact or via fomites, the case evidence suggested transmission of vaccinia via soiled bedding. In a follow-up experiment, 15 index mice were inoculated with 10 7 plaque-forming units of VV by either subcutaneous or intrarectal instillation. A dedicated contact sentinel and a bedding sentinel were provided for each index mouse. All 15 index mice were positive for antibodies when tested 22 days after inoculation. One mouse, inoculated by the subcutaneous route, appeared ill and developed lesions on the proximal portion of the tail. The contact sentinel mouse housed with this index mouse was the only sentinel to seroconvert. We conclude that VV-WR can spread to contact sentinels and potentially to bedding sentinels. The ability of other VV strains to be transmitted horizontally and the susceptibility of different mouse strains to infection merit further investigation. The use of VV in animal facilities must be managed carefully since the available serologic tests do not distinguish between VV and EV, an exotic agent of major concern to laboratory animal facilities.

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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Departments of Microbiology and Immunology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York 10461-1602 2: Pathology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York 10461-1602

Publication date: 2003-02-01

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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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