To prevent introducing pathogenic organisms into an animal colony, newly arrived animals should undergo clinical evaluation and quarantine. This allows the animals time to recover from the stress of shipping and to acclimate to the new environment. Landi et al. (1982) found that mice have altered immune functions with elevated corticosterone levels for 48 hr following shipment by truck or air.
Quarantine procedures will vary depending on the source of the animals. Animals received from commercial sources with an established pathogen-free history may undergo a limited quarantine involving clinical examination upon receipt and observation for 24 to 48 hr. A continuing dialogue with the commercial vendor to keep the facility manager and veterinarian informed of changes in the health profile is essential.
Animals arriving from noncommercial sources or sources with unknown health profiles require more rigorous procedures. These animals should be isolated from the animal colony for a minimum of 4 weeks. Sentinel animals, free of known pathogens, are placed in the cages with the quarantined animals. At the end of 4 weeks, the sentinel animals are submitted to the diagnostic laboratory for complete necropsy, serologic testing, bacterial cultures, and endoparasitic and ectoparasitic examinations. The animals should be released from quarantine and placed in the animal colony only after receipt of an acceptable health report from the laboratory. Some animal facilities allow research studies to be carried out on animals during the quarantine period, with the understanding that the animals must be maintained in quarantine for the duration of the study, and that proper procedures be followed to prevent traffic between the quarantine area and the animal colony.
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