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newly discovered agents were MPV and RPV, originally known as the “orphan” parvoviruses (Jacoby and others 1996). The pathogenesis of MPV in particular has been elucidated at Yale's Section of Comparative Medicine, which it is worth noting received substantial support in this effort from a commercial vendor. At this time, most if not all laboratories offer serology for MPV and RPV antibodies, primarily by ELISA with recombinant antigens and by IFA.

More recently, research done at various institutions has shown that infections with certain species of Helicobacter may cause disease, especially in immunodeficient mice. Without any regulations or recommendations requiting them to do so, most rodent diagnostic laboratories in the United States (and in Europe and Japan as well) quickly developed and began offering Helicobacter PCR assays.

SUMMARY

In the United States (and I would argue in Europe and Japan as well), the main motivation for standardization among the suppliers of rodents and diagnostic services has been competition and not government regulation or the recommendations of professional organizations. There is strong competition among microbiologists, laboratory animal suppliers, and diagnostic laboratories to discover and publish on important etiologic agents, to provide the highest quality SPF rodents, and to offer the most complete and accurate testing services, respectively. Laboratory animal suppliers have had to conform to the de facto standards that are set by their competitors and the demands of the research community. Consequently, there is little variation among suppliers of the excluded infectious agents that define rodents as SPF. To keep up with their competitors, diagnostic laboratories have had to quickly adopt the latest assay methodologies and to add tests for emerging pathogens. Concordance of the results reported by different laboratories for assays to diagnose common infections is good. Nevertheless, a quality assurance program to assess the accuracy of laboratory results, such as the one discussed in this meeting by Dr. Riley, is sorely needed.

REFERENCES

Dix, J., and J.R. Needham. 1996. Assessing the impact needs reliable results: The Laboratory Animal Health Monitoring Club. Scand. J. Lab. Anim. Sci. 23:171-176.

Jacoby, R.O., L. Ball-Goodrich, D.G. Besselsen, M.D. McKisic, L.K. Riley, and A.L. Smith. 1996. Rodent parvovirus infections. Lab. Anim. Sci. 46:370-380.

Rehbinder, C., P. Baneux, D. Forbes, H. Van Herck, W. Nicklas, Z. Rugaya, and G. Winkler. 1996. FELASA recommendations for the health monitoring of mouse, rat, hamster, gerbil, guinea pig and rabbit experimental units. Lab. Anim. 30:193-208.



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