Institute for Animal Studies

Rodent Quarantine FAQs

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Because rodents from other institutions frequently carry a number of infectious agents not present in rodents resident at Einstein, quarantine is required for all rodents coming from non-commercial sources, including research areas of commercial vendors. This page will answer many of the questions that faculty and collaborators have regarding rodent quarantine. 

Which rodents must go through quarantine? 

All rodents arriving from other institutions, research areas of commercial vendors, and rodents arriving from newly approved commercial animal vendors (with which we do not have previous experience). 

But my rodents are coming from a "clean" pathogen-free source, why must they go through quarantine? 

Animals housed at Einstein are specific pathogen free. We have an extensive quality assurance program to sustain their health status. The rodent quality assurance programs of other institutions vary widely in quality and frequency. Even when we are provided with health information prior to shipment, that information is “historical”. Even if animals are "clean" when shipped, contamination may occur en route on commercial carriers or from surface contamination during the packing process. 

How long does quarantine last? May I begin to breed my rodents during this time? 

If animals are found to be "clean" or only infected with agents accepted into the Einstein facilities, quarantine usually lasts 6-8 weeks. After the second week of quarantine, you may begin to breed your animals. You may add "clean" rodents from commercial sources as mates. If you need to add rodents from Einstein animal rooms, please fill out a "Request for Internal Animal Transfer" form and consult with Dr. Herbst prior to moving the rodents. Animals in quarantine must be handled last each day that they are handled. Never enter other animal housing areas after you have handled quarantine animals. Never relocate your rodents in quarantine without our permission. 

What happens to my rodents in quarantine? Why does quarantine take 6 or more weeks? 

During quarantine we make sure that your new rodents will not introduce infectious agents into Einstein animal colonies. To ensure that pathogenic bacteria (such as Mycoplasma pulmonis) and murine viruses (such as Mouse Hepatitis Virus) are not introduced, we will test serum from our sentinels. Sentinels will be placed with your animals during the second week that they are in quarantine, so that sentinels will be exposed to any persistent infections and any infections that your animals may have been exposed to in transit. The sentinel animals that we purchase are young, female animals with white fur from "clean" commercial sources. If your animals are white in color, we will usually mark the sentinels by ear punch or indelible ink on the tail, to allow easy identification. After sentinels spend at least two weeks co-housed with your animals, we sample them to allow time for them to seroconvert, and for certain parasites to complete their life cycle from eggs to adults. 

Because antemortem tests for fur mites and pinworms have a high rate of false negative results, we treat all animals 

undergoing quarantine for parasites. To reduce the possibility of introducing fur mites into Einstein mouse colonies, all mice are treated with diclorovos in the cage top. Fur mites and pinworms are absent from Einstein colonies. These parasites are prevalent in animal facilities worldwide, although the source institution may not be aware of the infestation. We provide fenbendazole feed to your mice on arrival for the duration of quarantine, to combat pinworms. Fenbendazole is a broad spectrum anthelmintic that is safe, and widely used by animal facilities to treat pinworms. To ensure that parasites are gone by the end of quarantine, we check fur samples microscopically and peri-anal tape test both index animals and contact sentinels prior to release from quarantine. 

Because sentinel exposure and parasite treatment must occur, the quarantine process takes at least 6 weeks and it may be 8 or more weeks before all test results have been received. 

How do I arrange for quarantine of rodents? How can I know when my animals have arrived and when they have completed quarantine? 

Quarantine space is assigned by Dr. Herbst. Because there is usually a wait for quarantine space, a queue is kept based upon the date of request. To arrange for quarantine, send an e-mail request to Dr. Herbst. A brief questionnaire is available on the IAS Forms web page. Alternatively, the questionnaire is available in the IAS Handout Center, Van Etten 460 and should be returned to Dr. Herbst's mailbox. The questionnaire contains information essential to schedule the quarantine group. Unless you make other arrangements, Dr. Herbst will contact veterinarians at the source institution to obtain the most recent health information. Health information must be provided prior to assigning quarantine space. The Animal Acquisitions Clerk will inform you when your animals arrive and they will be unpacked by IAS staff into the assigned quarantine cubicle in one of the animal facilities. Dr. Herbst will contact you when animals have completed quarantine to arrange for a permanent housing location. 

What if my animals are infected with agents not present in Einstein colonies? 

Unexpected test results may necessitate euthanasia if they cannot be rederived or if the animals are infected with an agent infectious to humans. If your animals are persistently infected with viral agents, it may be necessary to re-derive them. This may require shipping your animals to an offsite vendor. Some agents (i.e. Theiler's Murine Encephalomyelitis Virus - GDVII) must always be presumed to persist and some types of animals fail to clear viral infections (i.e. immunocompromised animals). Additionally, genetically-manipulated rodents (transgenic or knock-out) frequently have undetected partial immunodeficiencies which unpredictably impair viral clearance mechanisms. For these reasons, index animals are exposed to immunocompetent sentinels and quarantine groups are individually guided through the process to reduce the possibility that unwanted agents are introduced into Einstein animal colonies. 

Sometimes animals arrive with agents not endemic to any rodents at Einstein. If animals are expected to arrive infected with "unacceptable" organisms, you may be permitted to "use up" your animals terminally while they remain housed in quarantine. Animals being used terminally should be handled (and killed) only in the BSL2 hood designated by IAS (contact IAS for location). Additional decontamination procedures may be needed if animals are to be moved to your laboratory for terminal use. Please consult Dr. Herbst to determine what decontamination procedures are needed for your animals. If we have agreed that you will use your animals terminally in quarantine, please use them up promptly by the specified deadline, as other groups are waiting to utilize the cubicle, and because they pose a risk to the colonies at Einstein. Animals in quarantine must be handled last each day that they are handled. This is especially important to remember when you are bringing in animals known to be infected with agents not endemic to animals at Einstein. Never enter other animal housing areas after you have handled quarantine animals. 

Agents excluded from ALL of our animal colonies include mousepox (Ectromelia) virus, lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV), Hantaviruses, mouse hepatitis virus (MHV), mouse rotaviruses (EDIM), GDVII (Murine Encephalomyelitis virus, Theiler's), Mycoplasma pulmonis, Mycoplasma arthritidis, Sendai Virus, Pneumonia Virus of Mice, Mouse Adenovirus (both serotypes), Minute virus of Mice, mouse parvoviruses, murine cytomegalovirus, exogenous murine retroviruses, fur mites (Radfordia, Myobia and Myocoptes), pinworms (Aspiculuris and Syphacia), Rat coronavirus, Rat parvoviruses, and other agents.  

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