Animal health and genetic monitoring

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​​​​​​​​A. Background & Definitions

In addition to certain microbiological agents that cause symptomatic diseases in research animals, there are many other agents that may cause subclinical infections affecting animal´s physiology and therefore, research outcomes. Animals are generally produced under strict controlled conditions to prevent microbiological contamination. However, the level of biosecurity at research institutions varies significantly, as well as how they try to identify the microbiological status of the animal colonies (health monitoring). It is expected that the health status of the animals is reported as part of the study materials, as different health status may lead to different research outcomes. Breeding of genetically altered (GA) strains is widespread; researchers also must control the genetic characteristics of the colonies, especially to see if there have been deviations in expected allele frequencies in populations over time, spontaneous mutations that disappear or become fixed at random (genetic drift), as they may change the strain´s characteristics. All species, but more especially GA strains must be reported using standard scientific nomenclature, which indicates all characteristics of the strain.​

​B. Guidance & Expectations

The following topics must be defined and documented:

  • Health monitoring program and most recent reports for the research colony
  • Scientific nomenclature of the species, with special emphasis on Genetically Altered animals
  • Method(s) of control of genetic drift, if applicable​


  • To be knowledgeable of the health status of your research animals, and the potential impact of the identified agents in your research.
  • To use appropriate nomenclature and learn how to interpret it.
  • To use the appropriate controls for your GA strains.​

C. Resources

Template to describe information related to animal care and use (all items covered by Section 3.4.1) - 3.4.1 Animal care and use.docx​​

ARRIVE guidelines 2019 for reporting animal research

Online and other available guidance:

  • FELASA Recommendations for health monitoring of rodent and rabbit colonies [1]
  • AALAS/FELASA Working Group on Health Monitoring of Rodents for Animal Transfer [2]
  • Detection and Management of Microbial Contamination in Laboratory Rodents [3]
  • Natural Pathogens of Laboratory Mice, Rats, and Rabbits and Their Effects on Research [4]
  • FELASA Revised recommendations for health monitoring of non-human primate colonies (2018) [5]
  • Nomenclature tutorial Jackson lab [6]
  • Genetic drift presentation Jackson lab [7]
  • ​FELASA guidelines for the refinement of methods for genotyping genetically-modified Rodents [8]
  • The Case for Genetic Monitoring of Mice and Rats Used in Biomedical Research​ [9]

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