According to serologic surveys, murine norovirus (MNV) is the most prevalent viral pathogen infecting mice used in biomedical research. However, the use of sentinel mice to detect MNV-infected mouse populations has not been evaluated thoroughly. To this end, an experimental method of soiled bedding transfer was created to mimic a quarterly sentinel monitoring program. Soiled bedding (15 or 30 cm3) from ICR mice experimentally infected with MNV4 was transferred weekly to cages of pair-housed 4-wk-old ICR mice. After 12 wk, both mice in 80% (4 of 5) of cages receiving either 15 or 30 cm3 of soiled bedding were seropositive for MNV and were shedding virus in feces. To evaluate the stability of MNV RNA in mouse feces, fecal pellets from MNV-infected sentinel mice were stored at room temperature for as long as 14 d. After storage, all fecal samples tested positive for MNV by RT-PCR. To determine whether fecal samples could be pooled for MNV detection, 1 MNV-positive fecal pellet was combined with either 9 or 19 MNV-negative fecal pellets. All pooled fecal samples were positive for MNV by RT-PCR at both dilutions. These data indicate that although MNV-infected mouse populations can be detected by exposing sentinel mice to MNV-contaminated bedding, detection failures can occur. In addition, there was high agreement in the MNV infection status of cohoused sentinel mice. These data also demonstrate that MNV is readily detectable in pooled fecal samples and in mouse feces stored at room temperature for 2 wk
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