SEVERE thermal injury results in a susceptibility to infection which continues to be the greatest single cause of death in those patients surviving the initial shock phase. Numerous conditions may contribute to this susceptibility such as the presence of an open, contaminated wound which serves as a pabulum for bacterial growth, increased metabolic requirements with a decreased nutritional intake, loss of plasma proteins into the burned area, and suppression of the patient's defense mechanisms. The last of these possibilities has been the object of several studies within the past few years, but as yet the problems have been incompletely explored.
This investigation was undertaken to delineate some of the alterations of the immune response following severe thermal injury in both patients and experimental animals. For this purpose, the development of specific antibodies to both primary and secondary antigenic stimuli was studied in patients who had sustained greater than 30% thermal