The challenge of maintaining colony health
The maintenance of healthy animal populations is vital to research integrity. Today’s facility managers have to manage an increasingly complex research environment, balancing these pressures with the significant consequences of an outbreak mid-way through a research project. To achieve this, they must:
Trusted, tailor-made testing programs
Full Spectrum health monitoring supports EU facility managers in maintaining healthy research colonies. At its core is the ability to submit a wide range of NSP (non-sacrificial panel) samples as well as animals for testing on the best technology for target pathogens.
Several studies were undertaken to validate the performance of NSP tests developed internally at Envigo. The purpose of these studies and results are summarized in our white paper 'Comparing Non-sacrificial Panel (NSP) and Traditional Animal Health Monitoring'.
This capability is underpinned with access to our experienced staff who are able to help identify vulnerabilities and build bio-secure processes, design test profiles that meet your research needs, provide insightful test reports, and be on hand to respond to bio-security issues should they occur.
Full Spectrum health monitoring combines a complete suite of services to assess, design, test, report, interpret and support facility managers in the maintenance of healthy animal populations critical to research integrity.
Envigo offers its clients numerous possibilities in setting up your health surveillance programs including testing profiles, frequencies of testing, number of animals to be monitored etc., all based on the FELASA 2014 recommendations. Our ISO 9001:2015 certified diagnostic laboratories are located in the UK, Italy and Singapore and include highly qualified microbiologists, (molecular) biologists and veterinarians.
The routine testing of laboratory animals includes the use of serology, bacteriology, molecular biology (PCR) and parasitology which is usually undertaken on live animals, which can be picked up from your facility by dedicated Envigo trucks. For shipping live animals to our labs, Envigo offers special filtered boxes including gel, so animals arrive in good condition at our lab. Alternatively samples can be sent by overnight courier; this includes the use of dry blood spot cards for serology. Please download our dry blood spot leaflet for detailed information.
There are some instances when the use of sentinel animals is recommended. Sentinel animals are those that are introduced to the main population specifically for the purpose of health monitoring, when it is difficult or inappropriate to sample animals from the main population. One example of such a case is when using racks of individually ventilated cages (IVC’s), where it may not be practicable to screen animals in every cage on the rack.
It is advised that sentinels are sufficiently exposed to the animal colonies (at least 6 weeks). Sentinel animals should be selected for immune responsiveness, susceptibility to pathogens of interest (and therefore negative for these organisms!), and ease of identification. Isolator bred and maintained sentinels from Envigo are at minimum free of opportunistic bacteria (often referred as FELASA Plus or SOPF quality). Full monitoring reports are normally provided within 10 working days from receipt of animals. If necessary, serology data can already be provided within 48 hours after receipt of the animals or samples. The reports can provide historical data for individual units and areas, if required. Keep in mind that as a customer you pay for the result — not the retesting!
In recent years, the development of health — or microbiological — monitoring programs for laboratory animal colonies has been a significant feature of the modern animal facility. This responsibility for monitoring animal health has fallen upon the shoulders of your facility managers and veterinarians. As you know, it is one thing to establish the program, but quite another to handle the results and the questions that arise from them. Despite the attempts at standardizing health monitoring reports, for example by FELASA, animal facilities receiving animals for research are still faced with a variety of formats and data that need to be interpreted. Some of these questions that could arise:
In case colonies are confirmed to be positive for pathogenic organisms, Envigo can assist in cleaning up the colonies through rederivation (embryo transfer and/or caesarean section). View our contract breeding services for additional information.
In case of positive endoparasite findings (such as pinworm infections) we can offer you treatment schedules, such as use of Fenbendazol in diet.
Your ultimate goal is to ensure that valid experimental data can be obtained from laboratory animals that have not been compromised by interfering microorganisms. To meet the level of quality and consistency your research program requires, an animal health monitoring program is essential to your success.
The goal of a pathogen-free laboratory environment is desirable, but it can be difficult to achieve.