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Culture-independent Profiling of the Fecal Microbiome to Identify Microbial Species Associated with a Diarrheal Outbreak in Immunocompromised Mice

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Immunocompromised mice are used frequently in biomedical research, in part because they accommodate the engraftment and study of primary human cells within a mouse model; however, these animals are susceptible to opportunistic infections and require special husbandry considerations. In 2015, an outbreak marked by high morbidity but low mortality swept through a colony of immunocompromised mice; this outbreak rapidly affected 75% of the colony and ultimately required complete depopulation of the barrier suite. Conventional microbiologic and molecular diagnostics were unsuccessful in determining the cause; therefore, we explored culture-independent methods to broadly profile the microbial community in the feces of affected animals. This approach identified 4 bacterial taxa—Candidatus Arthromitus, Clostridium celatum, Clostridiales bacterium VE202-01, and Bifidobacterium pseudolongum strain PV8-2— that were significantly enriched in the affected mice. Based on these results, specific changes were made to the animal husbandry procedures for immunocompromised mice. This case report highlights the utility of culture-independent methods in laboratory animal diagnostics.
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Appeared or available online: 13 June 2018

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