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Article
October 9, 1943

THE PROBLEM OF THE ETIOLOGY OF RAT BITE FEVER: REPORT OF TWO CASES DUE TO SPIRILLUM MINUS

Author Affiliations

ATLANTA, GA.

From the Medical Service of Grady Hospital and the Department of Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine.

JAMA. 1943;123(6):332-334. doi:10.1001/jama.1943.02840410014005
Abstract

Evidence at present indicates that two different infectious agents may produce the disease known as rat bite fever: Spirillum minus and Streptobacillus moniliformis. The clinical manifestations of these two infections may be so similar that differentiation is possible only by demonstration of the causative organisms.1 Recent reviews of the literature on rat bite fever in America show that approximately 150 cases have been reported and that the majority were regarded as Spirillum minus infections, although actual demonstration of the parasite by animal inoculation was carried out in only 23 of the cases.2 Dawson and Hobby have questioned this evidence because the laboratory animals used in making the diagnosis may be naturally infected with spirilliform organisms and because Spirillum minus has not been demonstrated in the blood of persons suffering from rat bite fever.3 Nevertheless it must be accepted that Spirillum minus can produce a disease in man typical

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