Lurking in the shadows: Emerging rodent infectious diseases

David G. Besselsen, Craig L. Franklin, Robert S. Livingston, Lela K. Riley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Rodent parvoviruses, Helicobacter spp., murine norovirus, and several other previously unknown infectious agents have "emerged" in laboratory rodents relatively recently. These agents have been discovered serendipitously or through active investigation of atypical serology results, cell culture contamination, unexpected histopathology, or previously unrecognized clinical disease syndromes. The potential research impact of these agents is not fully known. Infected rodents have demonstrated immunomodulation, tumor suppression, clinical disease (particularly in immunodeficient rodents), and histopathology. Perturbations of organismal and cellular physiology also likely occur. These agents posed unique challenges to laboratory animal resource programs once discovered; it was necessary to develop specific diagnostic assays and an understanding of their epidemiology and transmission routes before attempting eradication, and then evaluate eradication methods for efficacy. Even then management approaches varied significantly, from apathy to total exclusion, and such inconsistency has hindered the sharing and transfer of rodents among institutions, particularly for genetically modified rodent models that may not be readily available. As additional infectious agents are discovered in laboratory rodents in coming years, much of what researchers have learned from experiences with the recently identified pathogens will be applicable. This article provides an overview of the discovery, detection, and research impact of infectious agents recently identified in laboratory rodents. We also discuss emerging syndromes for which there is a suspected infectious etiology, and the unique challenges of managing newly emerging infectious agents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)277-290
Number of pages14
JournalILAR Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Hamster
  • Helicobacter
  • Mice
  • Norovirus
  • Parvovirus
  • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR)
  • Rat
  • Serology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Lurking in the shadows: Emerging rodent infectious diseases'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this