Although there are many practical uses for antiseptics which are effective against cysts of Endamoeba histolytica, one of the most important and difficult is the emergency sterilization of drinking water under military combat conditions. Various halogen preparations have not been entirely satisfactory because they tend to be inactivated by organic nitrogenous material and by alkalinity. Since natural waters encountered in the field may sometimes contain very high concentrations of organic nitrogenous material or may be alkaline, and since military emergency conditions in the field require uniform dosage, it is necessary to use the halogens in high initial concentrations under all conditions so that they may prove effective even under the worst conditions. These high concentrations of the halogens are distasteful and may not be entirely without toxicity.
The antiseptic activity of certain heteropolar cationic compounds, or synthetic, cationic detergents, was described in 1935 by Domagk (1) and Katz and Lipsitz (2).