Exhaust Air Dust Testing Research Mice
Research Models
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Ken Henderson, PhD

Sentinel-Free Health Monitoring: What's Hot in 2022

Continuing innovation and evolution of non-sentinel methods for pathogen detection in research vivaria

What's Hot in 2022 logoPrior to 2010, the gold-standard for pathogen detection in laboratory rodent research vivaria was the use of soiled bedding sentinels.  However, studies in the last 10-15 years have demonstrated that the use of soiled bedding sentinels for both quarantine and routine vivaria monitoring are unable to detect or poorly detect many rodent pathogens.  An early and successful alternative method was the PCR testing of Exhaust Air Dust (EAD) collected on filters placed in the exhaust air plenums of the cage racks or by testing swabs of the plenum.  However, racks with cage-level filtration limits dust from entering the plenums, so instead, the cage-level filter from a cage containing pooled soiled bedding and a mouse for agitating, can be PCR tested.  More recent alternatives to testing the cage filter, and likely predecessor to be adopted, is to place a dust collection filter or media directly in the pooled soiled bedding and shaking the cage to agitate the bedding dust onto the media. Early data from external and internal collaborative studies supporting the use of a soiled-bedding contact media combined with manual agitation is equal to or more sensitive than methods that utilized the cage filter with a live mouse for agitation. More studies are being conducted to investigate and optimize manual agitation of contact media. Rewardingly, all these methods can be used to reduce or eliminate the need to obtain mice and rats as sentinels.

-- Ken Henderson, PhD, Director of Research & Animal Development, Charles River

Our What's Hot series are annual forecasts provided by Charles River's thought leaders. Check out here what our scientists are predicting for 2022 and what they called out in years past.