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Open Access Infectious Diseases in Wild Mice (Mus musculus) Collected on and around the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia) Campus

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Laboratory mice serve as important models in biomedical research. Monitoring these animals for infections and infestations and excluding causative agents requires extensive resources. Despite advancements in detection and exclusion over the last several years, these activities remain challenging for many institutions. The infections and infestations present in laboratory mouse colonies are well documented, but their mode of introduction is not always known. One possibility is that wild rodents living near vivaria somehow transmit infections to and between the colonies. This study was undertaken to determine what infectious agents the wild mice on the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia) campus were carrying. Wild mice were trapped and evaluated for parasites, viruses, and selected bacteria by using histopathology, serology, and PCR-based assays. Results were compared with known infectious agents historically circulating in the vivaria housing mice on campus and were generally different. Although the ectoparasitic burdens found on the 2 populations were similar, the wild mice had a much lower incidence of endoparasites (most notably pinworms). The seroprevalence of some viral infections was also different, with a low prevalence of mouse hepatitis virus among wild mice. Wild mice had a high prevalence of murine cytomegalovirus, an agent now thought to be confined to wild mouse populations. Helicobacter DNA was amplified from more than 90% of the wild mice (59% positive for H. hepaticus). Given the results of this study, we conclude that wild mice likely are not a source of infection for many of the agents that are detected in laboratory mouse colonies at the University of Pennsylvania.

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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 2: University Laboratory Animal Resources, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 3: School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; University Laboratory Animal Resources, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Publication date: October 1, 2009

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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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