a1 Microbiological Research Establishment, Porton, Salisbury, Wiltshire
The mechanism causing viable Francisella tularensis to lose virulence in aerosols has been investigated. Fully virulent organisms were found to be encapsulated and avirulent organisms from aged aerosols, decapsulated. Capsules were also removed by suspension of F. tularensis in hypertonic sodium chloride. The resulting naked, but viable, organisms were predominantly avirulent for guinea-pigs challenged intraperitoneally. Capsular material and cell walls were found to contain large amounts of lipid, about 50 and 70% (w/w) respectively, and to differ in lipid and sugar composition. Isolated capsular material was not found to contain a lethal toxin for mice or guinea-pigs, or to induce an immunological response in these animals to fully virulent F. tularensis.
(Received December 09 1976)