Background The species of the Rickettsia genus are separated into four groups: the ancestral group, typhus group, transitional group and spotted fever group. Rickettsia parkeri, a spotted fever group Rickettsia, has been reported across the American continents as infecting several tick species and is associated with a relatively mild human disease characterized by eschar formation at the tick feeding site, regional lymphadenopathy, fever, myalgia and rash. Currently, there are several mouse models that provide good approaches to study the acute lethal disease caused by Rickettsia, but these models can only be performed in an animal biosafety level 3 laboratory. We present an alternative mouse model for acute lethal rickettsial disease, using R. parkeri Atlantic Rainforest strain and C3H/HeN mice, with the advantage that this model can be studied in an animal biosafety level 2 laboratory. Principal findings In the C3H/HeN mouse model, we determined that infection with 1x106 and 1x107 viable R. parkeri Atlantic Rainforest strain organisms produced dose-dependent severity, whereas infection with 1x108 viable bacteria resulted in a lethal illness. The animals became moribund on day five or six post-infection. The lethal disease was characterized by ruffled fur, erythema, labored breathing, decreased activity, and hunched posture, which began on day three post-infection (p.i.) and coincided with the peak bacterial loads. Significant spleno-megaly (on days three and five p.i.), neutrophilia (on days three and five p.i.), and thrombo-cytopenia (on days one, three and five p.i.) were observed. Significance Since R. parkeri is used at biosafety level 2, the greatest advantage of this inbred mouse model is the ability to investigate immunity and pathogenesis of rickettsiosis with all the tools available at biosafety level 2.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Infectious Diseases