Taconic Biosciences Implements Changes to its Animal Health Program

Sept 14, 2020

SARS-CoV-2 testing added for susceptible models

Taconic has added SARS-CoV-2 testing for models which are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection. This applies to a small list of models in limited locations. Standard laboratory mice and rats are not susceptible to infection by SARS-CoV-2. For susceptible models, fecal samples are collected from line animal cages and tested by PCR on a biweekly basis. Additionally, quarterly testing of the exhaust air duct (EAD) filters from the IVC racks housing susceptible models will include SARS-CoV-2 testing. SARS-CoV-2 will not be added to Taconic health standard definitions as it is not considered a laboratory rodent pathogen. However, if SARS-CoV-2 is confirmed in a susceptible model, shipments will stop immediately, and customers who have received animals from the location since the last negative test result will be notified.

For more information on housing and husbandry for SARS-CoV-2 susceptible models, review our fact sheet.

June 1, 2019

Taconic now excludes MKPV from all health standards

Taconic has screened all commercial mouse production locations for the presence of mouse kidney parvovirus (MKPV) and is pleased to announce that all Taconic commercial mouse colonies and contract mouse breeding barriers are negative for MKPV. Taconic attributes this result to the strength of its biosecurity program, which includes practices and procedures designed to prevent entry or spread of viral contaminants.

As part of Taconic Biosciences' continued efforts to improve its animal health program, Taconic has added mouse kidney parvovirus (MKPV) to the exclusion list for all Taconic health standards. Regular testing will commence starting in July 2019, and MKPV test results will appear on health reports as of June 4, 2019.

Feb 27, 2018

Parasite updates

Taconic is rolling out changes to how parasites are reported on its animal health reports. Taconic continues to exclude all parasites at all health standards. That won't change. We will continue to exclude all parasites and test using a range of diagnostic methods, including microscopy, flotation, MFI and PCR. We are changing the way we report parasites on the health report. Taconic currently reports a defined listed of 16 parasites. This might falsely give the impression that we only exclude those parasites, when in fact Taconic excludes all parasites. We will now report parasites on our health reports under broad classes: endoparasites, ectoparasites and enteric helminths. We will continue to report one specifically named agent, Encephalitozoon cuniculi, which is of particular concern to those customers who also house rabbits. Below is an example of the relevant health report section, shown as before and after.

Health Report Section (Before)Health Report Section (After)
This change will take effect on February 28, 2018 for most production locations. It will take effect by April 1, 2018 for Isolator Breeding Solutions (IBS) locations.

Interactive health selector tool

Taconic is also launching an interactive digital tool to help customers select the most appropriate health standard. Customers can select the agents their facility excludes and the tool will analyze and display which Taconic health standard(s) meet that exclusion list. We believe this tool will make choosing a health standard easier. Try the tool now!

Sept 1, 2017

Taconic introduced a number of animal health updates and improvements as of Sept 1, 2017. A brief overview of the changes include:

  • Introduction of a new health standard, Opportunist Free™ (OF™)
  • Exclusion of an additional agent, Pasteurella multocida, at the Restricted Flora™ (RF™), Opportunist Free™ (OF™) and Excluded Flora (EF) health standards
  • Redesigned health testing in production locations using Individually Ventilated Cages (IVCs)
  • Addition of isolator microbial monitoring and bacterial 16S PCR testing results to health reports for Germ Free locations

Opportunist Free™ (OF™)

Taconic is adding the Opportunist Free™ (OF™) standard to the set of precisely defined health standards applied to its production of laboratory mice and rats. The OF™ standard applies to animals which are free of seven opportunistic pathogens, in addition to all agents excluded at the Murine Pathogen Free™ (MPF™) standard. Excluded organisms include:

  • Beta hemolytic Streptococcus (non Group D)
  • Klebsiella oxytoca
  • Klebsiella pneumoniae
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Proteus spp.
  • Pasteurella multocida
This standard will be initially applied to production of barrier-raised animals in the following European production locations: IVU102, IVU131, IVU150, and is designed to meet the needs of customers for animals free of confounding commensal organisms. Both immunocompetent and immunodeficient animals will be available at the OF™ standard.

Customers with pending orders from a location now designated as OF™ will be contacted with updated order confirmations.

P. multocida exclusion

Pasteurella multocida is a gram-negative coccobacillus that causes a range of health problems in some laboratory animal species. Pasteurella species including P. multocida are common commensal organisms in most livestock, domestic and wild animals, but P. multocida can be a primary pathogen associated with both acute and chronic disease under certain circumstances. It can also cause zoonotic infections in humans (Pasteurellosis) at low frequency, usually associated with animal bites or scratches or contact with domestic animal mucous secretions1. In laboratory animals, P. multocida is of most concern for rabbits, which can develop clinical illness, including rhinitis, conjunctivitis, pneumonia and otitis media2. It is not considered a pathogen in laboratory mice or rats.

P. multocida is not commonly found in most laboratory animal stocks at this time. This agent is unlikely to be introduced to production facilities from laboratory animal suppliers, does not form spores, and vegetative bacteria can be easily eliminated using typical laboratory disinfection protocols. However, once this agent has been introduced into laboratory rodents or rabbits, it is not possible to eliminate through test and cull, and depopulation would be required in order to eliminate it.

Taconic already excludes P. multocida from its Defined Flora and Germ Free health standards and tests for and reports on P. multocida status in all production locations. Taconic will now also exclude P. multocida from the Restricted Flora™, Opportunist Free™ and Excluded Flora health standards. P. multocida will continue to be tested for, reported and accepted at the Murine Pathogen Free™ health standard.

More complex health testing in IVC locations

Taconic is investing in upgrading animal production locations with individually ventilated cages (IVCs), which represents a more biosecure production method over static caging. Taconic is transitioning all commercial Opportunist Free™ and Excluded Flora animal production to IVCs. IVC production requires more complex health testing compared to static caging purely because it is more biosecure and transmission of infectious agents is limited. A multifaceted testing program in which agents of highest concern are screened using different methodologies to increase the likelihood of accurate and rapid detection is needed.

In static caging Restricted Flora™ (RF™), Opportunist Free™ (OF™) and Excluded Flora (EF) locations, core testing is performed monthly along with opportunist screening using cultures of fecal and oral samples. The redesigned testing program IVC locations includes four elements:

  • Core testing which includes serology, culture, PCR and necropsy
  • PCR testing of fecal samples from line animal IVC cages
  • IVC exhaust air duct PCR testing
  • Opportunist screening using culture testing of fecal and oral samples
The core testing, IVC PCR and exhaust air duct testing are each performed quarterly on a staggered schedule such that one element is performed each month. The opportunist screening is performed monthly.

Existing IVC exhaust air duct test results will begin appearing on select IVC location health reports in October, with additional IVC location test results becoming available throughout January 2018. New IVC locations will have exhaust air duct test results available approximately three months after opening.

More details on health testing in IVC locations can be found at the IHMS™ Testing Program.

Updated Germ Free health testing and reports

Taconic defines the Germ Free (GF) health standard as follows: no detectable organisms (viruses, parasites, bacteria, fungi) are present. The microbiological status of germ-free animals is verified through three separate methods. Each Germ Free isolator is tested via the IHMS™ core testing system for a list of defined viruses, bacteria, mycoplasma, fungi and parasites. Microbial monitoring of the isolator environment is designed to identify possible contamination of Germ Free isolators. Each isolator is tested weekly via culture for all aerobic and anaerobic organisms.

Taconic has added an additional level of screening to its Germ Free animals in the form of 16S generic bacterial PCR. This assay identifies any bacterial RNA which may be present. This added testing reinforces the integrity of Taconic's Germ Free animals.

The health reports for Germ Free animals previously only listed the core testing results, but will now also display the isolator monitoring results including both the culture testing and the 16S PCR. Look for these new test results on Germ Free health reports starting in mid-September.

View Germ Free health reports.
1. Wilson, B. A.; Ho, M. Clinical Microbiology Reviews 2013, 26 (3), 631-655.
2. The Merck Veterinary Manual. Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases of Rabbits. Available at: http://www.merckvetmanual.com/exotic-and-laboratory-animals/rabbits/bacterial-and-mycotic-diseases-of-rabbits. Accessed July 7, 2017.

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