Exhaust Air Dust Testing (EAD®) Health Monitoring Programs

Sentinel animals monitor colony health in an indirect and delayed fashion. They are commonly exposed to bedding contaminated with waste from colony animals. To be effective, sentinels must be exposed to as much soiled bedding as possible to overcome the dilution factor that can prevent or delay transmission to sentinels.This approach is dependent on the pathogen load that is present in the bedding during exposure and the ability of the agent to remain viable and infectious.

Many animal research facilities have moved toward a sentinel-free system to help reduce the use of research animals and improve pathogen surveillance. Screening samples from the environment 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. We can work with you to develop a program that is right for your facility.

Sentinel-Free Surveillance Sampling Methods

Housing Type
Colony Animal Sampling
Environmental Swabs
Plenum/Blower Swabs
In-Line Collection Device
Sentinel Cage Filter
Open-top caging
Microisolator (static, shoebox)
IVC - NO cage-level filtration
(e.g., Allentown, Tecniplast, alternative design)
IVC - WITH cage-level filtration (e.g., Thoren, Innovive, Lab Products, Animal Care systems (Optimice)


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Sentinel-free health monitoring is just one of the many topics covered as part of our Fast Tracks event. This series of short, on-demand presentations across six different tracks, including health monitoring, offers vital information to help you better protect the health and security of your animal models.


Sentinel-Free Sample Collection Method Examples


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Our Laboratory Testing Management® (LTM™) platform can help streamline sample submission, result reporting, and tracking – all from one convenient place.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Sentinel-Free Health Monitoring