Guinea-pigs were repeatedly infected with guinea-pig inclusion conjunctivitis agent. Reinfection caused severe conjunctival inflammation, and repeated reinfection led to chronic inflammation lasting for many months. This was followed by the development of pannus, follicles on the palpebral conjunctivae, scarring of the lower palpebral conjunctiva, and deformities of the lower lid. Reinfection was accompanied by small numbers of inclusion-bearing cells, small numbers of polymorphonuclear cells, and high numbers of mononuclear cells. There was no increase in the level of serum antibodies. The chronic conjunctivitis was associated with high numbers of mononuclear cells and no inclusions or polymorphonuclear cells. The response to reinfection appears to be a delayed-type hypersensitivity reaction, and we suggest that the chronic inflammation, pannus, scarring, and lid deformities associated with hyperendemic trachoma may be due to repeated reinfection combined with delayed-type hypersensitivity.
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