The experiments which have been reported show that distinct differences exist between relatively young cultures of bacteria and the same strains during the period of decline as regards invasive power and pathogenicity, and that these differences must be distinguished clearly from specific alterations in virulence such as those produced by animal passage. The exact interpretation of these observations is not, however, perfectly clear. We were inclined to believe that simple alterations in vegetative activity might account for the differences which have been described, but to what extent the results have been due to injury to the bacteria by products of culture growth it is impossible to say, and further work will be necessary to settle this point.
At any rate the experiments seem to bear definitely on the problem of infection in as far as they show that purely temporary modifications
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of growth activity whether or not brought about by specific injury lead to changes in invasiveness which are quite analogous to the test-tube phenomenon of lag.
It has previously been shown that there exists in the upper air passages a mechanism by means of which foreign particles and bacteria can be eliminated within a few hours. It seems highly likely on the basis of the present work that bacteria entering in an inactive growth phase—for example dried in dust or perhaps from a chronic carrier—may be disposed of before activity can be resumed, whereas organisms introduced in the stage of active growth—as from a case of acute disease—may be able to take advantage of a portal of entry. It is further possible that these experiments may have some bearing on the genesis of epidemics, especially as regards the preepidemic phase, and these matters will be discussed at another time.