Disease transgresses national borders. Living tissues can harbor viruses, bacteria, and prions responsible for transmissible encephalopathies. Cryostorage does not destroy such infectious agents. Indeed, evidence is accumulating to suggest that infectious agents released into the liquid nitrogen may pass to uncontaminated specimens and result in cross-infection.
Consequently, the international exchange of frozen germplasm is governed by restrictions regarding the health status of the donor animal. For some countries, e.g., Australia, stringent import restrictions apply to protect local animal health. In other countries, the requirements vary depending on the history of the material and the animals from which it was derived. As a precaution before material is stored, as much information as possible about the health status of the donor animal should be obtained. Inevitably, regulations continue to be updated as new disease organisms are identified and situations arise that could not have been foreseen. A blood sample should also be stored for future investigations of health status. It is not possible to predict whether material stored today could be transferred in the future, and therefore it is best to store germplasm in the country (or at least continent) of origin or of likely intended use.
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