Volume 33, Issue 5
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



Quantitative studies of selected features of peripherally induced (=) infection in -derived white laboratory rats revealed a unique association between microbe and amplifying vertebrate host which appears to be especially conducive to maintenance of the enzootic cycle. Both adult and newborn (1–3 days old) rats were highly susceptible to percutaneous infection (ID = ∼1 organism), but neither showed signs of disease or died even when inoculated with 10–10 plaque-forming units. Gain in body weight of infected newborn rats was indistinguishable from that of uninfected newborn rats over the first 3 weeks of life. The course of the systemic infection, as measured by the rise and fall of titers in blood, brain and kidney and the serum antibody response, was almost identical in adult and newborn rats. Thus, despite their immaturity in certain immunological processes, newborn rats controlled postnatal infection about as well as did adult rats. The rickettsemic period of about 10 days corresponds to the period of infectivity of inoculated rats for fleas. Rickettsiae were not isolated from blood, brain or kidneys by methods employed for more than 4–5 weeks after infection. Serum antirickettsial antibodies persisted for at least 60 weeks postinfection, i.e., longer than the usual life span of rats in nature and, hence, are a valid measure of the cumulative experience of rat populations with infection.


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