Date of this Version
The objective of this study was to determine whether a chlamydial strain recovered from growing and finishing swine with conjunctivitis or keratoconjunctivitis could cause the same infections in gnotobiotic pigs. The strain shares biological characteristics with Chlamydia trachomatis. After propagation in Vero cells and preparation of the inoculum (107 inclusion-forming units/ml), chlamydial strain H7 was instilled into the ventral conjunctival sac (0.15 ml/sac) of 12 anesthetized 3-day-old gnotobiotic piglets. Four age-matched gnotobiotic piglets were anesthetized and sham infected with uninfected cell culture lysates. None of the principal piglets developed clinical symptoms of conjunctivitis or keratoconjunctivitis. Principal piglets necropsied 7 days postinfection (DPI) had histologic lesions of mild or moderate conjunctivitis; immunohistochemical evaluation revealed chlamydial antigen in conjunctival epithelium. A majority of principal piglets necropsied at 14–28 DPI had histologic lesions of mild conjunctivitis, but chlamydial antigen was not detected by immunohistochemistry. The results indicated that chlamydial strain H7 can cause mild or occasionally moderate conjunctivitis in gnotobiotic pigs, but the conjunctival infection is asymptomatic.