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Laboratory Animals 53(3)

Table 1. Bacterial agents recommended by FELASA for routine screening in breeding colonies of rats and mice1 and the
prevalence with which they have been diagnosed globally in recent surveys from laboratory animal colonies, pet shops and
single cases.
Screening recommended by FELASA

Filobacterium rodentium
(Cilia-associated
respiratory bacillus)
Citrobacter rodentium
Clostridium piliforme
Corynebacterium kutscheri
Helicobacter spp.
Mycoplasma spp.
Rodentibacter spp.
(Pasteurella
pneumotropica)
Salmonella
Streptobacillus moniliformis
b-Hemolytic streptococci
Streptococcus pneumoniae

Global
prevalence
in laboratory
rats and mice2,16-19

Global
prevalence in
pet shop rats
and mice8,20-22

Zoonotic

Mice

Rats

None

Annually

(þ)

0

-

Annually
Annually
Annually
Every 3 months
Annually
Every 3 months

None
Every
None
Every
Every
Every

0
þþ
0
þ
þ
þ

0
þ
0
þþþ
þ
þ

-
(y)
-

Annually
Annually
Every 3 months
Every 3 months

Every 3 months
Annually
Every 3 months
Every 3 months

0
0
þ
0

0
þ
0
0

3 months
3 months
3 months
3 months

-
y

y
y
y
y

ND No data; 0 Not found; (þ) Prevalence < 5%; þ Prevalence ¼ 5-33%; þ þ Prevalence ¼ 33-66%; þ þ þ Prevalence > 66%; - Not zoonotic;
(y) Single cases reported; y Several cases reported.

infectious agents'.5 The agents listed by FELASA are
shown in Table 1.
However, it is questionable whether the bacteria
currently listed represent the major risk factor for
the unsuccessful use of rodents as models for human
disease, since some of these, i.e. Citrobacter rodentium,
Corynebacterium kutscheri and Streptococus pneumonia,
have not been found in any microbiological surveys
published within the last 15 years. This is also the
case for Streptobacillus moniliformis and Salmonella
spp., but S. moniliformis was isolated from barrierbred laboratory mice back in 199014 and from pet
rats13 and human patients15,16 as late as 2017, and
Salmonella spp. is present with a low prevalence
among wild rodents17,18 and is one of the most
common food-borne infections.19 The majority of
those agents found cause mostly latent infections, but
their routine screening can be argued on their ability to
interfere with various models even in the absence of
clinical manifestations. Rodentibacter spp. (previously
known as Pasteurella pneumotropica but now reclassified as eight different species20), while probably unable
to cause pneumonia in immune-competent mice,21,22
may be isolated from abscesses,23,24 may alter cytokine
expressions,25 and may have some additional impact on

immune-deficient mice.22,26 A few of the numerously
described Helicobacter spp. may cause clinical
disease.27-32 Clostridium piliforme may cause Tyzzer's
disease,33-36 and although infections with it are often
latent due to genetic traits in rats37 and mice,38 research
interference may still be expected due to dysfunction of
the liver.39 Mycoplasma pulmonis and M. arthritidis
may cause respiratory, eye and joint-related conditions
and may affect reproduction, at least if enhanced by
other factors.21,40-45 However, even in the absence of
clinical symptoms, it may have impact on certain
models.46-50 Filobacterium rodentium (formerly known
as cilia-associated respiratory (CAR) bacillus51), while
usually asymptomatic,52 is the cause of chronic respiratory disease in rats,53,54 and BALB/c mice.54,55 There is
only one reported case that infection with group B bhaemolytic streptococci, S. agalactiae, has caused general abscesses and mortality,56 and, therefore, this is an
example of an agent that does not necessarily require
routine monitoring. Rodentibacter spp.,57 Helicobacter
spp.,58 C. piliforme,59 M. pulmonis,60 and F. rodentium61
can be diagnosed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR),
and although serology may be considered less sensitive
and specific it is also commonly applied for C. piliforme,35 M. pulmonis62 and F. rodentium.63 b-



Laboratory Animals - June Issue

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Contents
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