Robinson, G. W., N. Nathanson (Dept. Epidem., Johns Hopkins Univ. Sch. Hygiene and Public Health, Balto., Md. 21205) and J. Hodous. Sero-epidemiological study of rat virus infection in a closed laboratory colony. Amer J Epidem 94: 91–100, 1971.—The study was conducted in a closed breeding colony of laboratory rats, with a constant population of about 2000 animals and an annual production of about 3000 animals. A series of 16 litters, born at 2-week intervals, was monitored from birth to 6 months of age for hemagglutination-inhibition antibody to rat virus. Rat virus infection was enzootic and infections were acquired from 2 to 7 months of age, when about two-thirds of the population had been infected. About one-half of the animals studied also acquired antibody from their mothers during suckling; most lost this passive antibody by 2 months of age. Apparently the conditions of husbandry of this colony, in which large numbers of small cages are in fairly close proximity, permitted transmission of rat virus at a rate sufficient to maintain acute infections without exhausting all susceptibles. Under these circumstances a virus which causes acute immunizing infections can be perpetuated in a relatively small host population with a high turnover rate.
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