Pathobiology and management of laboratory rodents administered CDC category A agents

Comp Med. 2007 Feb;57(1):18-32.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Category A infectious agents include Bacillus anthracis (anthrax), Clostridium botulinum toxin (botulism), Yersinia pestis (plague), variola major virus (smallpox), Francisella tularensis (tularemia), and the filoviruses and arenaviruses that induce viral hemorrhagic fevers. These agents are regarded as having the greatest potential for adverse impact on public health and therefore are a focus of renewed attention in infectious disease research. Frequently rodent models are used to study the pathobiology of these agents. Although much is known regarding naturally occurring infections in humans, less is documented on the sources of exposures and potential risks of infection to researchers and animal care personnel after the administration of these hazardous substances to laboratory animals. Failure to appropriately manage the animals can result both in the creation of workplace hazards if human exposures occur and in disruption of the research if unintended animal exposures occur. Here we review representative Category A agents, with a focus on comparing the biologic effects in naturally infected humans and rodent models and on considerations specific to the management of infected rodent subjects. The information reviewed for each agent has been curated manually and stored in a unique Internet-based database system called HazARD (Hazards in Animal Research Database, that is designed to assist researchers, administrators, safety officials, Institutional Biosafety Committees, and veterinary personnel seeking information on the management of risks associated with animal studies involving hazardous substances.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anthrax / microbiology
  • Anthrax / pathology*
  • Botulism / microbiology
  • Botulism / pathology*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Hemorrhagic Fevers, Viral / pathology*
  • Hemorrhagic Fevers, Viral / virology
  • Humans
  • Infection Control / methods
  • Laboratory Animal Science / methods*
  • Laboratory Animal Science / standards
  • Models, Animal*
  • Plague / microbiology
  • Plague / pathology*
  • Risk Management / methods
  • Risk Management / standards
  • Rodentia*
  • Smallpox / pathology*
  • Smallpox / virology
  • Species Specificity
  • Specimen Handling / methods
  • Tularemia / microbiology
  • Tularemia / pathology*