Indirect immunoperoxidase (IP) staining was evaluated for sensitivity and specificity in detecting Colorado tick fever (CTF) virus antigen in infected cell cultures and infected mouse tissues, and then was applied to a study of congenital CTF infection in mice. The sensitivity of IP staining was comparable to that of immunofluorescence staining in detecting CTF antigen in infected cell cultures. Endogenous peroxidase activity of mouse tissues caused nonspecific reactivity in the IP system, but this could be abolished by treatment with sodium azide and hydrogen peroxide without destroying CTF antigen. Offspring of mice infected with CTF virus during the 2nd week of pregnancy showed a highly significant increase in the incidence of stillbirths and neonatal deaths as compared with offspring of uninfected controls. CTF antigen or virus was demonstrable in only a low proportion (7%) of embryos, ill newborns or stillborns examined, but a high proportion of mice examined at a time when maternal antibody would be lost (6 and 12 weeks) showed CTF antibody, indicating a higher incidence of infection. IP staining showed potential for use in studies of viral pathogenesis in the mouse model.
Present address: Microbiology Laboratory, Department of Public Health, 101 Grove Street, San Francisco, California 94102.