The virulence of type c when inoculated intracisternally (i.c.) into rabbits was evaluated. Rabbits are relatively resistant to infection with type b, such that inocula of the order of 10 cfu are required to produce meningitis in this model. In contrast, fatal meningitis was produced in this study when 10 cfu of a type-c strain were injected i.c. into rabbits. Numbers of bacteria in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of control (untreated) animals generally increased to 10 cfu/ml. Increases in white blood cells, protein and lactate in the CSF were similar to those which had been observed during meningitis due to in rabbits. The infection was amenable to therapy with ampicillin 50 mg/kg given intravenously 12 h after infection. Numbers of bacteria in CSF were reduced to 2.2 × 10 cfu/ml (SEM 0.2 × 10) at 8 h after treatment with a single dose of ampicillin. Two doses of ampicillin, given 12 and 20 h after infection, significantly increased the mean survival time. In contrast to previous experimental studies with rabbits, the penetration of ampicillin into the CSF was high—46 (SEM 10)% of the blood level. Since considerable replication of type c occurred within the CSF in this model, the nature of the meningeal damage produced was likely to be similar to that which takes place in man. Hence, type c meningitis in rabbits may provide a useful model in which therapeutic and other experimental studies of meningitis can be performed.


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