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Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2000 Mar;124(3):362-77.

A mouse model of aerosol-transmitted orthopoxviral disease: morphology of experimental aerosol-transmitted orthopoxviral disease in a cowpox virus-BALB/c mouse system.

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Pathology Division, US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Ft. Detrick, MD 21702-5011, USA.



To determine the morphologic changes and disease progression of aerosolized cowpox virus infection in BALB/c mice and to ascertain the suitability of cowpox virus-infected BALB/c mice as a model of aerosol-transmitted, orthopoxviral respiratory disease.


BALB/c mice were inoculated with cowpox virus, Brighton strain, by aerosol or intranasal route. Mice were killed at specified times after inoculation, necropsied, and tissues were collected for routine histology, immunohistochemistry, and electron microscopy.


Inoculation by both routes resulted in disease and death. Immunolabeled viral antigen and lesions predominated in the tissues associated with the inoculation route, that is, lungs, airways, trachea, and nasal passages and sinuses. Tracheitis was evident in the intranasally infected group only. Lesions were generally necrotizing and hemorrhagic, neutrophilic, and increased in extent and severity in a time-dependent fashion. Viral intracytoplasmic inclusion bodies, immunolabeled viral antigen, or virions were readily seen in epithelial tissues, smooth muscle cells of airways and vessels, fibroblasts, periosteal cells, perineural cells, and macrophages. Although the extension of infection appeared to be primarily direct, lesions suggesting hematogenous dissemination were occasionally noted in bone marrow and skin. Transmission electron microscopy demonstrated features of cell injury or death, virion assembly and maturation, and both A-type and B-type inclusions.


Aerosol inoculation of BALB/c mice with cowpox virus provides a reliable and facilitative model of aerosol-transmitted, orthopoxviral respiratory disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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