Journal of Hygiene

Research Article

Studies in the epidemiology of infectious myxomatosis of rabbits*: V. Changes in the innate resistance of Australian Wild rabbits exposed to myxomatosis

I. D. Marshalla1 and Frank Fennera1

a1 Department of Microbiology, John Curtin School of Medical Research, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

Annually for 4 years groups of young Australian wild rabbits have been captured during non-epizootic periods from areas in which myxomatosis has occurred during the previous summer. The intensity of the preceding epizootic was measured by testing a sample of survivors for antibody. The captured young rabbits were raised in the laboratory until they were about 4 months old and then inoculated intradermally with small doses of the slightly attenuated myxoma virus strain Aust/Corowa/12–52/2 (KM 13), all samples of virus being derived from the same batch which has been stored at -70°C.

The results show there is a significant negative correlation between the mortality rate and the degree of exposure to myxomatosis of the forbears of the tested animals. Passive and active immunization have been excluded and this result is ascribed to increased genetic resistance.

We are greatly indebted to Mr. F. N. Ratcliffe, Officer in Charge of the Wildlife Survey Section of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Organization, and to his officers, especially Messrs W. E. Poole, K. E. Myers, G. Douglas, B. V. Fennessy, H. Frith and K. Keith for their invaluable assistance in collecting rabbits and serum samples.

We have had valuable discussions with Dr W. R. Sobey, Dr P. J. Claringbold and Dr G. S. Watson on genetical and statistical aspects of the problems under study.

(Received July 25 1957)


* Aided by grants from the Rural credits Development Fund of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

† Supported by a grand from the Wool Industry Fund.