Bull World Health Organ, 1961;24(1):35-43.
PMID: 20604084


One of the factors on which the incidence of leptospirosis is dependent is the survival time of shed leptospires in surface water or soil water, and this time is in turn affected by the acidity or alkalinity of the water. The authors have therefore studied the survival of four leptospiral serotypes in buffered distilled water at pH's ranging from 5.3 to 8.0. All survived longer in alkaline than in acid water, and significant differences between the serotypes were found in response to pH. Survival at pH's under 7.0 ranged from 10 to 117 days and at pH's over 7.0 from 21 to 152 days. Survival was also studied in aqueous extracts of soil samples from different areas in Malaya; no correlation was found between pH and survival time.It was also noted that in a group of Malayan ricefields a low incidence of leptospirosis in man was accompanied by a high infection rate among rodents, and when it was found that this phenomenon could not be explained by pH or salinity, attention was turned to the soil. Bentonite clay, similar to the montmorrillonite clay of the ricefields, was found to adsorb about half the leptospires in suspension. The authors recommend that field study of this laboratory observation be undertaken.

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