Alternative Health Monitoring Programs
Animal research facilities are moving toward a sentinel-free system to help reduce the use of research animals and improve pathogen surveillance. Screening samples from the environment instead of the animal via more sensitive methods, such as Exhaust Air Dust (EAD®) or environmental PCR testing, allows you to reduce or eliminate the need for sentinel animals. Additionally, this method overcomes the known limitations of soiled-bedding sentinels for detecting certain rodent infectious agents. Charles River will work with you to develop a program that is right for your facility.
Sample Programs by Cage Type
The following are various alternative health monitoring (HM) testing options that are based on the type of animal rack system employed in your vivarium.
Individually Ventilated Cages (IVC)
Most research facilities employ the use of IVCs to house their animal models. Each cage on an IVC rack acts as an independent bioexclusion system, enabling animals of varying health status to be housed on the same rack. Charles River offers both sentinel-free and hybrid programs for IVC-housed animal models.
Sample Collection Units
Designed for Tecniplast caging systems, the Interceptor offers a more accurate and sensitive environmental health monitoring alternative to the soiled-bedding method. Samples are gathered via EAD® and analysed by PCR. Watch the below video to learn more.
Allentown Sentinel™ EAD®
Co-developed with Allentown, the Allentown Sentinel™ EAD® capture unit reduces the labor and time associated with manually swabbing a rack for samples. By placing the unit in the exhaust plenum of an Allentown rack, Sentinel™ EAD® automatically captures exhaust air dust samples as the air flows over its proprietary media. When it is time to test your rack (every three months), you can remove the integrated collection media and send it to Charles River for testing.
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Microisolator or static cages are a simple yet effective design that enables a cage-level barrier between the inside of the cage and the external environment. This is established by utilizing a cage lid that has been fitted with a specialized filter that allows air flow but prevents environmental contaminants from entering the cages.
Conventional or open-top cages are absent of a filter top and are placed directly onto a rack or shelf. The main difference with this type of caging is that there is no barrier or protection between the interior of the cage and the room environment and therefore poses a higher biosecurity risk.