During the course of studies on the characteristics of experimental bacteriemia, staphylococci were swiftly cleared from the blood stream of rabbits during the initial 10 to 15 minutes following intravenous injection of microorganisms. A subsequent abrupt decline in the rate of clearance ensued, resulting in a low grade bacteriemia which was demonstrable for many hours.
The experiments reported have indicated that this strain of staphylococcus is rapidly phagocyted within the vascular system of rabbits, and that viable staphylococci circulate within the cytoplasm of polymorphonuclear leukocytes.
The removal mechanisms contained within the liver and spleen appear to preferentially trap circulating extracellular staphylococci. When most of the circulating staphylococci are contained within leukocytes, splanchnic removal declines or virtually ceases.
These observations suggest that viable, intracellular microorganisms are responsible for the persistence of staphylococcal bacteriemia in rabbits following the phase of rapid removal from the blood stream.