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Open Access Mousepox Detected in a Research Facility: Case Report and Failure of Mouse Antibody Production Testing to Identify Ectromelia Virus in Contaminated Mouse Serum

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An outbreak of mousepox in a research institution was caused by Ectromelia-contaminated mouse serum that had been used for bone marrow cell culture and the cells subsequently injected into the footpads of mice. The disease initially was diagnosed by identification of gross and microscopic lesions typical for Ectromelia infection, including foci of necrosis in the liver and spleen and eosinophilic intracytoplasmic inclusion bodies in the skin. The source of infection was determined by PCR analysis to be serum obtained from a commercial vendor. To determine whether viral growth in tissue culture was required to induce viral infection, 36 mice (BALB/cJ, C57BL/6J) were experimentally exposed intraperitoneally, intradermally (footpad), or intranasally to contaminated serum or bone marrow cell cultures using the contaminated serum in the culture medium. Mice were euthanized when clinical signs developed or after 12 wk. Necropsy, PCR of spleen, and serum ELISA were performed on all mice. Mice injected with cell cultures and their cage contacts developed mousepox, antibodies to Ectromelia, and lesions, whereas mice injected with serum without cells did not. Mouse antibody production, a tool commonly used to screen biologic materials for viral contamination, failed to detect active Ectromelia contamination in mouse serum.

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Document Type: Case Report

Affiliations: 1: Comparative Pathology Laboratory, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, California 2: Office of Laboratory Animal Care, University of California, Berkeley, California 3: Center for Laboratory Animal Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, California 4: Center for Comparative Medicine, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, California 5: Molecular and Cell Biology Department, University of California, Berkeley, California 6: Comparative Pathology Laboratory, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, California, USA. [email protected]

Publication date: 2009-04-01

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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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