A Method for the Isolation of Leptospiras from Water

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  • Laboratory of the West African Yellow Fever Commission of the International Health Board, Rockefeller Foundation, Lagos, Nigeria

Leptospiras have been found frequently in salt and fresh water by Noguchi (1), Uhlenhuth and Zuelzer (2), Hindle (3), Burgess (4) and several other workers, but as the attempts to cultivate these organisms have not been successful in most instances, practically nothing is known of their pathogenicity, cultural characters and immunological reactions.

In connection with the investigation of yellow fever in West Africa, it was considered advisable to study the leptospiral group of spirochetes found in water from different sources, and to ascertain whether pathogenic species could be found living free in nature. In order to obtain these organisms in pure culture, a number of different methods were tried and the following technique was found to give fairly satisfactory results.

Samples of water were collected from various sources, such as open drains from houses, rain-water storage tanks, sump pits, pools, and rivers. The water was filtered first through paper, then through Berkefeld V and finally through Berkefeld N filters.