Development and validation of ELISAs for monitoring bacterial and parasitic infections in laboratory rodents and rabbits
According to the FELASA recommendations for the health monitoring of rodent and rabbit breeding and experimental colonies (Kraft et al. 1994; Rehbinder et al. 1996) bacterial and parasitic infections are monitored by culture and microscopy respectively whereas viral infections are monitored by serology. The recommendation on the breeding colonies states that serological methods exist for the detection of antibodies to various bacterial pathogens e.g. Bacillus piliformis (now Clostridium piliforme), mycoplasmas and Leptospira spp. and suggests the possible use of serology for these infections as well as for Treponema cuniculi, Encephalitozoon cuniculi and Toxoplasma gondii.
Since 1985 we have explored the utility of serology, notably the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), for the monitoring of animal colonies. Serology avoids the killing of animals and large numbers of animals can be more easily tested than by culture and results can be obtained within hours. Here we give a brief overview of our work and some experiences. Details can be found in a series of papers published between 1993 and 1999 in Laboratory Animals (LA) and the Journal of Experimental Animal Science (JEAnS) (Table 1). We started with non-X (hemin) and non-V (NADP) factor requiring Pasteurellaceae as such bacteria frequently occurred in all animal species. Later we extended our studies to growth factor requiring members of the family (Haemophilus sp) and bacterial species belonging to other families. The development and validation of the assays were done similarly for bacterial species or groups studied (Figure 1).