Comparing Mouse Health Monitoring Between Soiled-bedding Sentinel and Exhaust Air Dust Surveillance Programs

J Am Assoc Lab Anim Sci. 2020 Jan 1;59(1):58-66. doi: 10.30802/AALAS-JAALAS-19-000061. Epub 2019 Dec 20.


To monitor rodent colony health in research facilities, soiled-bedding sentinel (SBS) animals have traditionally been used. SBS can be tested by various methods, which may include serology, PCR analysis, and necropsy. Several pathogens are unreliably detected by using SBS or transmitted poorly through soiled bedding, and collection and evaluation of SBS samples can be time-intensive. Recently, exhaust air dust (EAD) testing through PCR analysis has emerged as an adjunct or replacement method for rodent colony health monitoring. EAD monitoring may provide a more efficient, sensitive, and humane method for monitoring health status. Using both EAD and SBS health monitoring, we evaluated colony health over the course of 1 y in 3 research barrier rooms in which mice were housed exclusively on IVC racks. Three pathogens-Helicobacter spp., Rodentibacter spp. (previously Pasteurella pneumotropica), and murine norovirus (MNV)-were not excluded in 2 of the rooms, and we expected that these mice would test positive with some regularity. EAD monitoring was significantly more sensitive than SBS for detection of the bacterial agents. SBS failed to detect Helicobacter spp. at time points when EAD had 100% detection in the rooms that did not exclude the bacteria. The detection of MNV did not differ between health monitoring systems at any time point. The findings suggest that EAD is especially valuable in detecting bacteria poorly transmitted through soiled bedding. In addition, the corresponding results with MNV detection suggest that EAD surveillance can reliably be implemented as an alternative to SBS monitoring in a facility in which mice are housed exclusively on IVC racks.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Infections / diagnosis
  • Bacterial Infections / microbiology
  • Bacterial Infections / veterinary
  • Bedding and Linens / microbiology*
  • Caliciviridae Infections / diagnosis
  • Caliciviridae Infections / microbiology
  • Caliciviridae Infections / veterinary
  • Dust / analysis*
  • Helicobacter / isolation & purification
  • Housing, Animal*
  • Laboratory Animal Science
  • Mice*
  • Norovirus / isolation & purification
  • Pasteurellaceae / isolation & purification
  • Rodent Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Rodent Diseases / microbiology*
  • Sentinel Surveillance


  • Dust