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Outbreak of abdominal distension and obstipation in a C57BL/6J experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis study

Koya, V;Campbell, AM;McLaughlin, PJ;Tewari, D;Wilson, RP;Cooper, TK;

Seventy-four 9-week old female C57BL/6J mice housed in a conventional facility were manipulated to induce experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, among which 26 developed clinical signs including lethargy, absence of defecation, and abdominal distension. By gross necropsy examination, there was distension of the cecum and colon with fecal impaction. By histologic examination, there was severe ulcerative and proliferative typhlocolitis. Fecal ELISA confirmed the presence of toxins A and B of Clostridium difficile. Alteration in immune status of the immunocompetent mice, due to stress caused by experimental manipulation or autoimmune disease, may have led to intestinal dysbiosis, followed by opportunistic infections resulting in C. difficile-associated disease. This report brings to light the occurrence of the disease in immunocompetent laboratory mice during experimental manipulations associated with alteration in immune status, and it discusses potential hazards associated with conventional housing within a hospital-associated research institute.