Borges, A.C., Pereira, N.M., Franco, N., Vale, L., Pereira, M., Cunha, M.V., Amaro, A., Albuquerque, T. & Rebelo, M. (2016) Implementation of a zebrafish health program in a research facility: a four-year retrospective study.Zebrafish, 13(1), 115-126. DOI:10.1089/zeb.2015.1230 (IF2016 2,242; Q1 Zoology)
In the past two decades, zebrafish (Danio rerio)-based research has contributed to significant scientific advances. Still, husbandry and health programs did not evolve at the same pace, as evidenced by the absence of general guidelines. Health monitoring is essential to animal welfare, to permit animal exchanges across facilities, to contribute to robust experimental results, and for data reproducibility. In this study, we report a health program implemented in a zebrafish research facility to prevent, monitor, and control pathogen, and disease dissemination. This program includes quarantine, routine health screening of sentinels, and nonroutine screenings of retired animals and sick/moribund individuals. An extensive list of clinical signs, lesions, and pathogens was monitored based on: daily observation of fish, necropsy, histology, and bacterial culture. The results indicate that the combined analysis of sentinels with the evaluation of sick/moribund animals enables a comprehensive description not only of pathogen prevalence but also of clinical and histopathologic lesions of resident animals. The establishment of a quarantine program revealed to be effective in the reduction of Pseudoloma neurophiliafrequency in the main aquaria room. Finally, characterization of the colony health status based on this multiapproach program shows a low prevalence of lesions and pathogens in the facility.