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To determine the pathogenicity of Leptospira in water and soil in Malaysia, we collected specimens and inoculated them into hamsters. Utilizing a rather sharply circumscribed time of death from leptospirosis following inoculation, we developed a screening method to test many soil and water samples for the presence of pathogenic Leptospira. Of 13,850 inoculated hamsters, 1,415 died in 20 days. There were 366 leptospiral isolations, 86% of which were obtained from animals dying between the 8th and 12th days after inoculation. An inverse linear relation of log dose and death time of hamsters following inoculation of Leptospira was demonstrated. Counts of virulent Leptospira indicate that fewer than nine inoculated intraperitoneally are often lethal for hamsters.
Present address: Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D. C. 20012.