Principles of microbiological health monitoring

Why is microbiological health monitoring performed?

A good state of health is an important part of the well-being of animals. Microbiological monitoring is conducted to find out whether the animals carry microbes that can cause diseases either for the animals themselves, for other species or for humans. Microbiological health monitoring is a good way to prevent diseases from spreading and to increase theĀ  general state of animal health.

Basis for microbiological health monitoring

  • Our ethical view and legislation obligate us to take care of the health and well-being of animals.
  • Preventing pathogens that cause illness or are latent improves theĀ  general state of animal health, increases the physiological uniformity of the animals, improves the reliability of the scientific research and decreases the number of animals needed for the experiments.
  • Even asymptomatic infections may distort the results obtained in experiments.
  • Animals under health monitoring will be accepted in other laboratory animal establishments as well.

Classification of the animal microbiological level

  • Axenic animals have no viruses, bacteria, fungi or parasites. Endogenous DNA viruses can exist, however. Breeding is possible only in an isolator.
  • Gnotobiotic animals can be produced by giving axenic animals a known mixture of microbes. Breeding is possible only in an isolator.
  • SPF animals (specific pathogen free) are known to be free from specific microbes and parasites that are harmful to the species. SPF animals are usually maintained in a barrier department or IVC cages (individually ventilated cages).
  • Conventional animals may carry harmful microbes. Conventional animals are maintained in conventional, so called open units.

On what basis are microbes and parasites selected for inspection?

The basis is the degree of harmful impact of the microbe or parasite on the health of the animals or humans or for the scientific research. Everything cannot be tested, so selecting the microbes is always a compromise. Based on facility-specific needs the decision is made on what, how and how often inspections are made. KEKS primarily abides by the FELASA recommendations. The recommendations vary by country. As the level of knowledge about new microbes increase and diagnostics develop, the recommendations change.

Interpretation of the health monitoring results

  • If even one positive result is found during the monitoring, the whole unit is considered as contaminated with the microbe in question.
  • If all samples are negative, the unit is considered as clean of the microbe in question.

The results obtained from the health monitoring are "historical" as soon as the samples have been taken. Uncertainty about the microbiological situation at the unit increases with increasing time passed since the last time samples were examined.

Last updated: 30.12.2016