Animal Health Program

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

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

Diagnostic program overview

The Jackson Laboratory’s Diagnostic Laboratory routinely monitors animal-health status. Our program:

  • Verifies the health status of animals that have been rederived in the importation facility before release to breeding colonies.
  • Monitors against potential disease outbreaks in the production and research colonies.
  • Determines epidemiological parameters of strain-specific lesions.
  • Helps differentiate new mutations from infectious disease problems.
  • Develops, as needed, new molecular and serological assays for selected microbial agents.

Our agents monitored web page lists the selected pathogens and other organisms for which we routinely test our JAX® Mice. The list includes bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi. Results of our diagnostic tests are summarized by room and are posted every six weeks. Links to the animal health reports are accessible from the “Technical Support” tab on each strain’s datasheet. Links to the most recent animal health reports for all of our mouse facilities are available from the animal health reports web page.

Clinical medicine and pathology programs

In addition to routine surveillance, the JAX® Mice Animal Health Program includes a clinical medicine program that helps identify mice that appear abnormal and assists in clinical investigations when circumstances suggest a change in health status. 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. Additionally, the pathological effects of new gene mutations are analyzed systematically. Preliminary pathological analyses of mice carrying new mutations are critical and are prerequisite to determining the mutation's value in biomedical research.

Multiple barrier levels

All JAX® Mice are bred and maintained in barrier facilities, which are categorized based on organisms excluded. Details regarding the barrier levels we maintain and the animal-care procedures practiced in each are summarized on the facility barrier level descriptions web page.

Rederivation of newly imported strains

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 foster/surrogate mothers 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.

A cooperative team

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