Analysis of field data suggested that listerial encephalitis in sheep was most common in winter and early spring in the age groups of sheep which would be cutting, changing and possibly losing teeth. It was hypothesised that under these conditions ingested Listeria monocytogenes could reach the fine dental terminals of the trigeminal nerve causing an ascending neuritis and encephalitis. Experimental inoculation of organisms into the dental pulp demonstrated the feasibility of this route of infection. Histological encephalitis was evident six days after inoculation but the incubation period to clinical neurological disease was at least three weeks.
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