Modern rodent colonies are housed in individually ventilated cages to protect the animals from contamination with adventitious pathogens. Standard health monitoring through soiled-bedding sentinels does not always detect infections, especially in the context of low pathogen prevalence.
Recently proposed alternatives include analyzing environmental samples from the cages or rack exhaust by PCR to improve the detection of rodent pathogens but optimal sampling strategies have not yet been established for different microorganisms. Although generally very sensitive and specific,
these molecular assays are not foolproof and subject to false-positive and –negative results and should always be interpreted cautiously with an overall understanding of the intrinsic controls and all the variables that may affect the results. Here, we report a limited Aspiculuris
tetraptera outbreak in a mouse barrier facility that was detected by fecal PCR in sentinels and confirmed by fecal flotation and direct cecal examination of both sentinels and colony animals. The outbreak led to a widespread survey of all facilities for pinworms by using environmental
PCR from ventilated rack exhaust plenums. Environmental PCR suggested an unexpected widespread contamination of all ventilated racks holding nonautoclaved cages, but results could not be confirmed in sentinel or colony animals by fecal flotation, cecal and colonic examination, or cage PCR
testing. After additional investigation, the unexpected environmental PCR results were confirmed as false-positive findings due to the nonspecificity of the assay, leading to the amplification of rhabditid nematodes, which are not infectious in rodents but which contaminated the corncob bedding.
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Document Type: Case Report
Animal Resources Department, The Salk Institute, for Biological Studies, La Jolla, California, USA
Animal Resources Department, The Salk Institute, for Biological Studies, La Jolla, California, USA. [email protected]
November 1, 2014
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