An attempt was made to produce an animal model of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The experimental animals (germ free weanling rats) were exposed to nasopharyngeal isolates from cases of SIDS to test the hypothesis that common bacteria may have an aetiological role in the disease. Negative results were obtained when the strains were tested in isolation, but certain combinations of organisms (specifically some Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli) killed the animals rapidly (less than 18 hours) without prolonged terminal illness. Post mortem histological findings were consistent with those of SIDS. The lethal toxigenic potential of nasopharyngeal bacteria, which are regarded as harmless in adults, should be reconsidered in respect of the aetiology of SIDS.
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