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Archives



SDAV ALERT


Prepared by: Michael J. Huerkamp, DVM, Diplomate ACLAM and Lois A. Zitzow, DVM

February 11, 2000


Harlan Sprague-Dawley (HSD) has reported an outbreak of sialodacryoadenitis virus (SDAV, coronavirus) originating in a surgical unit in Madison, Wisconsin (www.harlan.com), but disseminated nationally to research institutions in at least 15 states and one Canadian province over the past two weeks. Anecdotal evidence suggests that rats originating from Prattville, AL production colonies may also be a source. However, as outbreaks of this nature often involve some degree of rumor, innuendo, unfounded accusations, exaggeration, and hysteria, actions and interpretation must be tempered. A mitigating factor in the widespread national distribution of this disease appears to be the apparent mixing of rats from different production colonies in HSD trucks to facilitate regional delivery to research institutions. Thus, shipping crates containing rats, HSD delivery personnel, and receipt personnel at destination institutions all could become contaminated with SDAV through direct or indirect contact with crates from Madison and be a source of transmission.



The DAR is closely monitoring rat colonies for signs of disease and will be checking sentinels for seroconversion shortly. To date, no outbreaks have been reported in Georgia or in any contiguous state except Alabama. We have HSD rats in the Dental, Physiology, Rollins, and Woodruff Memorial Research buildings. We have not received any rats from the building that was the source of the outbreak, but have received rats from production colonies in both Madison and Prattville as well as other sites. Previous outbreaks of SDAV at Emory University were limited to the WMRB in 1994 and 1988. Typically, infection with SDAV is characterized by ocular squinting, corneal ulcerations, mild pneumonia, sneezing and often spectacular “mumps-like” swelling of salivary glands in the neck. However, outbreaks can be almost clinically silent. For example, our outbreak in 1994 was asymptomatic except for high mortality in adrenalectomized rats. Because of general malaise and pneumonia, SDAV-infected rats should perform abnormally in behavioral paradigms and are at high risk of dying under anesthesia, respectively. The disease is highly infectious and spreads rapidly through a colony affecting all exposed rats, but, providing new susceptible animals are not added to the population, it will rapidly run its course. Mice, humans and other species are not susceptible to infection. Research personnel observing unexpected deaths in anesthetized rats or experimentally-manipulated rats or observing clinical signs in rats should report any findings immediately to the veterinary staff (7-3248). Based upon information that we have, the DAR has discontinued ordering rats from Madison and Prattville production facilities and re-emphasized the importance to our staff of spraying crates with disinfectant before unpacking rodents. It is possible that our moratorium as well as control measures enacted by HSD may impact rat availability for some users. We are monitoring the situation and will provide updates as needed.