Making the Move: Sentinel Animals to Exhaust Air Dust PCR

Leader: Brian Bilecki
Moderator: Kenneth S Henderson
Panelists: Harold F Stills, Jr., Wendy Steel

It is estimated that between 750,000 and 1 million sentinel animals are used globally each year in rodent colony health monitoring programs. A new approach to screen for rodent pathogens using exhaust air dust (EAD) collection and PCR testing can reduce or potentially eliminate the need for traditional live-animal sentinel programs, and supports the theme of “better science from fewer animals” and the 3Rs while improving health assessments and reducing facility labor and cost. More vivariums are moving away from traditional soiled bedding sentinel animals and are adopting EAD PCR as their primary animal health surveillance methodology. While some vivariums are early adopters, others are still warming to the idea of EAD PCR. Representatives from different institutions who initially adopted a swabbing technique for EAD collection are now either moving to or trialing the suspended media design. Their experiences evaluating the technology, as well as the decision-making process and what factors impacted the ultimate choice to adopt EAD will shed light on common questions and concerns that much of the LAS industry currently shares. Furthermore, this discussion will also include the participant’s experiences introducing these new methods and procedures. Facility managers, directors, veterinarians, researchers, and anyone responsible for the health monitoring and maintenance of the vivarium will learn about approaches and considerations used to evaluate an alternative EAD program, the impact of EAD testing on the reduction or elimination of sentinel mouse use, the challenges to switching from a traditional bedding sentinel program to an EAD PCR program and recent results obtained for an EAD PCR program versus traditional bedding sentinel monitoring.

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