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January 19, 1957


JAMA. 1957;163(3):188. doi:10.1001/jama.1957.02970380030009

The importance of leptospiral diseases to the health of man and animals has only been appreciated in recent years. Previous to 1938, the only recognized form of leptospirosis in the United States was Weil's disease, caused by Leptospira icterohaemorrhagiae. This disease was known to be transmitted by rats and was considered to be restricted to persons whose occupation brought them in close contact with the urine of infected animals. However, in 1938, Meyer and his associates1 reported a case of human leptospirosis due to Lept. canicola in which the dog was the reservoir of the disease, while, in 1951, Schaeffer2 reported an epidemic due to Lept. pomona, which three years earlier had been recognized as the cause of an outbreak of disease in dairy cattle in New Jersey.3 Subsequently, five more strains—Lept. bataviae, Lept. autumnalis, Lept. ballum, Lept. pyrogenes, and Lept. hebdomidis—have been incriminated in human leptospirosis