JAX® Mice animal health program

The Jackson Laboratory is committed to setting quality standards in animal care and to assuring that these standards are maintained throughout all of our mouse colonies. The Jackson Laboratory's Animal Health Program is comprised of importation, diagnostic, clinical medicine, and pathology groups and is designed to:

  1. Assure the health and well-being of our animal colonies by routine and extensive monitoring for undesirable infectious agents.
  2. Prevent the entry of infectious agents by rederivation and strict health monitoring of all incoming mice.
  3. Minimize the opportunity for transmission of infectious agents between cages through the use of microisolator caging and adherence to rigorous animal health practices.

All JAX® Mice are bred and maintained in barrier facilities. Procedures for Production and Repository barrier facilities include sanitation or sterilization of all supplies and equipment entering the barrier. Personnel are required to sanitize their hands or shower prior to entry and to wear gloves and sterilized clothing, including shoes, caps, and masks. Access to all animal rooms is limited to personnel who have a work assignment in that room.

Jackson Laboratory animal care procedures for mice maintained in Research colonies are similar to those in Production and Repository facilities. Jackson Laboratory animal care procedures include provision of sterilized bedding, autoclaved or irradiated feed, drinking water that is filtered, acidified, and for higher barrier levels autoclaved, and microisolator caging. Mice are transferred to clean cages using disinfected forceps, except for a few strains in which newborn litters may be transferred by a disinfected gloved hand. All caging equipment is washed in barrier processing facilities that are closely monitored for effective decontamination of processed equipment and supplies. For a description of barrier levels see Overview of barrier levels.

All mice brought into The Jackson Laboratory are rederived. The imported mice are housed in microisolator cages maintained in negatively ventilated IVC racks and all mouse manipulations are performed in biosafety cabinets. Mice used as foster mothers in the rederivation program are from a colony with defined aerobic flora. Rederived mice are maintained in isolated barrier facilities. After weaning, the mice are held until their health status has been determined by testing the foster/surrogate mother for all agents that we monitor. These quarantine activities are conducted in The Jackson Laboratory Importation Facility which is physically separated from all Production and Research animal rooms.

Our diagnostic program serves to:

  1. verify the health status of animals that have been rederived in the importation facility before release to breeding colonies;
  2. monitor against potential disease outbreaks in the Production and Research colonies;
  3. determine epidemiological parameters of strain-specific lesions;
  4. help differentiate new mutations from infectious disease problems; and
  5. develop, as needed, new molecular and serological assays for selected microbial agents.

The Jackson Laboratory Diagnostic Laboratory routinely monitors animal health status using statistically valid sampling procedures and recognized serological and molecular testing protocols. The List of Agents Monitored page lists the selected agents monitored in JAX® Mice, including bacteria, parasites, viruses, and fungi. Results of diagnostic tests are summarized by room and posted on the JAX® Mice website.

In addition to routine surveillance, The Jackson Laboratory Animal Health Program includes a clinical medicine program that helps to identify mice that appear abnormal and assists in the performance of clinical investigation under circumstances that suggest that an infectious disease problem might exist in an animal colony. The clinical medicine group works cooperatively with the Diagnostic Laboratory to ensure the effectiveness of room cleaning procedures and procedures for the disinfection of animal room equipment and supplies. All cleaning, disinfection, and sterilization procedures are monitored using the most appropriate microbiological techniques.

The Jackson Laboratory's clinical medicine and health monitoring programs are complemented by a comprehensive pathology program. Necropsies are performed on animals that appear ill. As well, the pathological effects of new gene mutations are analyzed systematically. Preliminary pathological analyses of mice carrying new mutations is critical and is a prerequisite to determining the mutation's value in biomedical research.

As a biomedical research institution and a supplier of the world's broadest array of mouse models for research, The Jackson Laboratory is uniquely positioned to fully use the wealth of information derived from our diagnostic, clinical medicine, importation, and pathology groups to develop a better understanding of the diseases of laboratory mice, develop procedures to diagnose and prevent these diseases, and assist in the development of new mouse models of human disease.

Last Modified: July 16, 2009  

Abbreviations used in health reports

The following abbreviations appear within the animal health reports provided for production, repository, and research facility mouse rooms:

ELISA: Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay. A type of serologic assay for detection of antibodies to pathogens of mice. In this case, the antigens are absorbed onto the surface of microtiter plates and assay results are read in a spectrometer.

MFI: Multiplex Fluorescent Immunoassay. A serologic assay in which antigens from mouse pathogens are bound to the surface of fluorescent beads. The beads are in the micron size range so many beads containing different antigens can be grouped together in a single assay. The beads and detector antibodies with fluorescent tags are read by lasers to determine what antigens are showing positive and negative results.