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Open AccessArticle

Physiological Responses to a Single Low-Dose of Bacillus anthracis Spores in the Rabbit Model of Inhalational Anthrax

1
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Homeland Security Research Center, Cincinnati, OH 45224, USA
2
Formerly of Battelle Memorial Institute, Columbus, OH 43201, USA
3
Battelle Memorial Institute, Columbus, OH 43201, USA
4
Institutional Office of Regulated Nonclinical Studies, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Galveston, TX 77555, USA
5
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Galveston, TX 77555, USA
6
Sealy Institute for Vaccine Sciences, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Galveston, TX 77555, USA
7
Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Galveston, TX 77555, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Pathogens 2020, 9(6), 461; https://doi.org/10.3390/pathogens9060461
Received: 3 May 2020 / Revised: 4 June 2020 / Accepted: 6 June 2020 / Published: 11 June 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anthrax Treatment)
Credible dose–response relationships are needed to more accurately assess the risk posed by exposure to low-level Bacillus anthracis contamination during or following a release. To begin to fill this knowledge gap, New Zealand White rabbits were implanted with D70-PCT telemetry transmitters and subsequently aerosol challenged with average inhaled doses of 2.86 × 102 to 2.75 × 105 colony forming units (CFU) of B. anthracis spores. Rabbits exposed to a single inhaled dose at or above 2.54 × 104 CFU succumbed with dose-dependent time to death. Death was associated with increases above baseline in heart rate, respiration rate, and body temperature and all rabbits that died exhibited bacteremia at some point prior to death. Rabbits that inhaled doses of 2.06 × 103 CFU or lower survived to the end of the study and showed no or minimal adverse changes in the measured physiological responses in response to the challenge. Moreover, no bacteremia nor toxemia were observed in rabbits that survived to the end of the study. Overall, the data indicate that challenge doses of B. anthracis below the level sufficient to establish systemic infection do not produce observable physiological responses; however, doses that triggered a response resulted in death. View Full-Text
Keywords: Bacillus anthracis; anthrax; low-dose; dose–response; physiological response Bacillus anthracis; anthrax; low-dose; dose–response; physiological response
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Taft, S.C.; Nichols, T.L.; Hines, S.A.; Barnewall, R.E.; Stark, G.V.; Comer, J.E. Physiological Responses to a Single Low-Dose of Bacillus anthracis Spores in the Rabbit Model of Inhalational Anthrax. Pathogens 2020, 9, 461.

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