Institute for Animal Studies

Rodent Quarantine FAQs

 
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Because rodents from other institutions frequently carry a number of infectious agents not present in rodents resident at Einstein, quarantine is required for all rodents coming from non_commercial sources. This hand_out will answer many of the questions which faculty and collaborators have regarding rodent quarantine.

Which rodents must go through quarantine? 

All rodents arriving from other institutions and rodents arriving from newly approved commercial animal vendors (with which we do not have previous experience).

But my mice are coming from a "clean" source, why must they go through quarantine? 

Animals housed at Einstein are largely free from infectious agents and we have an extensive quality assurance program to sustain their health. The rodent quality assurance programs of other institutions vary widely in quality and frequency. Even when we are provided with health information prior to shipment, experience has shown that approximately one of 10 shipments arrive carrying unexpected antibodies against viral agents (and possible persistent infection) or infested with parasites. Even if animals are "clean" when shipped, contamination may occur en route on commercial carriers or from surface contamination during the unpacking process.

How long does quarantine last? May I begin to breed my rodents during this time? 

If animals are found to be "clean" or only infected with expected agents, quarantine usually lasts 6_8 weeks. After the first week of quarantine, you may begin to breed your animals. You may add "clean" rodents from commercial sources as mates. If you need to add rodents from Einstein animal rooms, please fill out a "Request to Move Animals" form and consult with Dr. Herbst prior to moving the rodents. Animals in quarantine should always be handled last each day they are handled. Never enter other animal housing areas after you have handled quarantine animals. Never relocate your rodents in quarantine without our permission.

What happens to my rodents in quarantine? Why does quarantine take 6 or more weeks? 

During quarantine we make sure that your new rodents will not introduce infectious agents into Einstein animal colonies. To ensure that pathogenic bacteria (such as Mycoplasma pulmonis) and murine viruses (such as Mouse Hepatitis Virus) are not introduced, we will test serum from your

("index") animals or from our sentinels. Sentinels will usually be exposed to your animals during the second week they are in quarantine so that sentinels will be exposed to any persistent infections and any infections your animals may have been exposed to in transit. The sentinel animals we purchase are young, female animals with white fur from "clean" commercial sources. If your animals are white in color, we will usually tattoo the tails of the sentinels to allow easy identification. After sentinels spend at least a week co_housed with your animals, we wait 2 weeks prior to bleeding them to allow them to seroconvert and for parasites to complete their life cycle from eggs to adults.

Because antemortem tests for fur mites and pinworms have a high rate of false negative results, we treat all animals undergoing quarantine for parasites with fenbendazole feed. To reduce the possibility that fur mites could be introduced into Einstein mouse colonies, all mice are treated with diclorovos (Atgard) in the bedding. Fur mites and pinworms are absent from Einstein colonies and are very common at other institutions. The source institution may not be aware of the infestation. Fenbendazole is broad spectrum and is very safe. We ask that you do not re_cage animals in your quarantine group for the first week of quarantine so that we can readily identify and test an index animal and make sure that toxicity is not seen. To ensure that parasites are gone by the end of quarantine, we check fur samples microscopically and anal tape test both index animals and contact sentinels prior to release from quarantine.

Because sentinel exposure and parasite treatment must occur, the quarantine process takes at least 6 weeks and it may be 8 or more weeks before all test results have been received.

How do I arrange for quarantine of animals? How can I know when my animals have arrived and when they have completed quarantine? 

Quarantine space is assigned by Dr. Herbst. Since there is usually a wait for quarantine space, a queue is kept based upon the date of request. To arrange for quarantine, send an e-mail to Dr. Herbst. A brief questionnaire will be returned by e-mail. Alternatively, the questionnaire is available in the IAS Handout Center, 1005 Ullmann and should be returned to Dr. Herbst's mailbox. The questionnaire contains information essential to schedule the quarantine group, so be sure to fill it in and return it promptly. Unless you make other arrangements, Dr. Herbst will contact veterinarians at the source institution to obtain the most recent health information. Health information must be provided prior to assigning quarantine space. The Animal Acquisitions Clerk will inform you when your animals arrive and they will be unpacked by IAS staff into the assigned quarantine cubicle in Ullmann 1107 ("dirty" quarantine) or Chanin 610, 616or 620 ("clean" quarantine). Dr. Herbst will contact you when animals have completed quarantine to make arrangements for a permanent housing location and to ask if you would like IAS staff to relocate the animals.

What if my animals are infected with agents not present in Einstein colonies? 

About one in 10 shipments of animals arrive infected/infested with unsuspected, unwanted agents. Surprise test results may necessitate the immediate movement of animals from "clean" to "dirty" quarantine or may necessitate euthanasia if appropriate space is not available or the animals are infected with an agent infectious to humans. External and internal parasites will be eliminated by treating the animals and by documenting that the agent(s) have been eliminated. If your animals are persistently infected with viral agents, it may be necessary to re_derive the animals through embryo transplantation or Cesarean re_derivation. Some agents (i.e. Theiler's Murine Encephalomyelitis Virus _ GDVII) must always be presumed to persist and some types of animals fail to clear viral infections (i.e. immunocompromised animals). Additionally, genetically_manipulated rodents (transgenic or knock_out) frequently have undetected partial immunodeficiencies which unpredictably impair viral clearance mechanisms. For these reasons, index animals are exposed to immunocompetent sentinels and quarantine groups are individually guided through the process to reduce the possibility that unwanted agents are introduced into Einstein animal colonies.

Sometimes animals arrive with agents not endemic to any rodents at Einstein. If animals are expected to arrive infected with "unacceptable" organisms, you may be permitted to "use up" your animals terminally while they remain housed in quarantine. Animals being used terminally should be handled (and killed) only in the BSL 2A hood in room 1107 Ullmann. Additional decontamination procedures may be needed if animals are to be moved to your laboratory for terminal use. Please consult Dr. Herbst to determine what decontamination procedures are needed for your animals. If we have agreed that you will use your animals terminally in quarantine, please use them up promptly, as other groups are waiting to utilize the cubicle. Animals in quarantine should always be handled last each day they must be handled. This is especially important to remember when you are bringing in animals known to be infected with agents not endemic to animals at Einstein.

Agents being excluded from ALL of our animal colonies include mousepox (Ectromelia) virus, lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus, Hantaviruses, mouse rotaviruses (EDIM), GDVII (Murine Encephalomyelitis virus, Theiler's), Mycoplasma pulmonis, Mycoplasma arthritidis, Sendai Virus, Pneumonia Virus of Mice, Mouse Adenovirus (both serotypes), Minute virus of Mice, mouse parvoviruses, murine cytomegalovirus, exogenous murine retroviruses, fur mites (Radfordia, Myobia and Myocoptes), Rat coronavirus, Rat parvoviruses, and other agents.

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