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September 24, 1927


Author Affiliations

From the First Medical (Columbia) Division and Pathological Laboratory of Bellevue Hospital.

JAMA. 1927;89(13):1041-1043. doi:10.1001/jama.1927.02690130029011

Medical literature has contained many references to cases of jaundice associated with hemorrhages. These have been called Weil's1 disease since his description in 1886. Inada,2 in 1916, isolated a spirochete from epidemic and sporadic cases of jaundice in Japan. Noguchi3 studied this organism and classed it as a leptospira, because of the morphology, absence of flagella, and flexibility of the terminal portion. During the World War, epidemics of jaundice with hemorrhage occurred among the troops in widely separated areas.

Leptospirosis icterohaemorrhagica is a sporadic and epidemic disease which is usually characterized by jaundice and a hemorrhagic diathesis. The organism is a common commensal in rats. It is probably transmitted by contaminated water or soil through the alimentary tract or skin.

The leptospiras present a characteristic picture when observed with dark field illumination. They appear as a wavy or hooked chain of highly refractile dots surrounded by a