Weakly virulent isolates of Vibrio vulnificus that were lethal only to simultaneously iron-overloaded and immunosuppressed mice were tested for ability to cause fluid accumulation in the permanently ligated rabbit ileal loop. Unlike the highly virulent isolates, which caused septicemia and death in rabbits, these isolates caused significant fluid accumulation in the rabbit loops. Fluid accumulation was also observed when culture filtrates were tested, indicating the existence of an enterotoxin. Enterotoxin activity did not correlate with the hemolysin or protease activities. Only one of three enterotoxigenic isolates caused diarrhea when administered to temporarily ligated rabbit ileal loops, suggesting involvement of some other pathogenic determinant(s) such as colonization.
Lethal doses of 11 clinical and environmental isolates of Vibrio vulnificus were determined in suckling mice after oral challenge. With one exception, isolates that were virulent to iron-overloaded adult mice after intraperitoneal inoculation were highly lethal to the infant mice (>50% lethality at 10 5 CFU/mouse). The virulent isolate that failed to kill infant mice at 10 5 CFU had lost its invasiveness. Conditionally virulent isolates that were virulent only to simultaneously iron-overloaded and immunosuppressed adult mice required > 10 9 CFU to kill the infant mice. Avirulent isolates failed to kill at >10 9 CFU/mouse. There were no significant differences in the lethalities of clinical and environmental isolates. These findings demonstrated a close correlation between virulence in the iron-overloaded adult mouse and infectivity by the oral route.
Thirteen Clostridium perfringens isolates classified as nonenterotoxigenic by radioimmunoassay (RIA) were tested for biological activity in rabbit ileal loops to determine whether these organisms produced enterotoxins serologically unrelated to the classical C. perfringens enterotoxin. None of these strains was active in the ileal loop assays. The large number of RIA-negative isolates obtained from food-poisoning outbreaks is more likely due to the failure to isolate causative strains rather than to the existence of novel enterotoxins.