The influence of repeated staphylococcal infection of rabbit skin upon the characteristics of the experimentally induced lesion was studied. It was found that the repeated infection was associated with the development of delayed hypersensitivity unaccompanied by the appearance of demonstrable serum antibody. The delayed hypersensitivity to the staphylococcus resulted in an increased infectivity of the organism in skin of the sensitized animal, characterized by intensification of the lesions seen with large bacterial inocula and the induction of abscesses with inocula incapable of producing any lesion in normal rabbit skin. Similarly, the severity of experimentally induced pyoarthrosis was greater in sensitized than in normal rabbits. Induction of delayed hypersensitivity by vaccination of rabbits with washed heat-killed staphylococci resulted in the same increased severity of the infection and an increase in infectivity of the microorganism.
In contrast to the observations of cutaneous and joint infection, the sensitized animals appeared to be less susceptible to severe infection of the anterior chamber of the eye.
The role of immunity and hypersensitivity in staphylococcal infection is discussed and the possibility that non-specific inflammation may influence staphylococcal infection in the same way as specific hypersensitivity is indicated. Studies to further elucidate this are presented in the following pages.