Animal research facilities are moving toward a sentinel-free system.

PCR-based pathogen environment surveillance of an entire individually ventilated caging (IVC) system, referred to as exhaust air dust (EAD) testing, continues to be one of the hottest trends in animal diagnostics. More and more laboratory animal facilities are using it as a component of routine health monitoring. Between 50% and 60% of facilities are using some form of alternative health monitoring, compared to 10 years ago when pretty much every facility relied exclusively on dirty bedding sentinels. So what do we see occurring next year and beyond? Look for modifications in cage and rack design and improvements in sampling methods that will allow an even wider range of IVC systems, primarily those systems that block EAD from exiting the cages, to optimize EAD PCR. Also keep an eye out for an uptick in the number of laboratory animal facilities adopting sentinel-free systems, which now stands around 5-10%. This will help reduce the use of research animals and improve pathogen surveillance.

—Ken Henderson, Director of R&D, RADS, Charles River