Clinical syndromes following rat bite have been ascribed to two micro-organisms, Streptobacillus moniliformis (Streptothrix, as originally described by Schottmüller) and Spirillum minus. The latter organism is of special interest in connection with the case about to be reported.
The present concept that rat bite fever is due to infection with a spirillum dates back to 1916, when Futaki, Takaki, Taniguchi and Osumi1 described an unnamed spirochetal microorganism as "the cause of rat-bite fever." One year later Futaki and his associates2 termed this organism Spirochaeta morsus muris. On the basis of morphologic characteristics, especially the rigid body and the terminal flagellums, Robertson3 preferred to classify the causal agent of rat bite fever (sodoku) as a spirillum. In view of the resemblance of the terminal flagellums to the minus sign, he proposed to adopt the name Spirillum minus, originally given by Carter,4 for an organism isolated from a
HITZIG WM, LIEBESMAN A. SUBACUTE ENDOCARDITIS ASSOCIATED WITH INFECTION WITH A SPIRILLUM: REPORT OF A CASE, WITH REPEATED ISOLATION OF THE ORGANISM FROM THE BLOOD. Arch Intern Med (Chic). 1944;73(5):415–424. doi:10.1001/archinte.1944.00210170052008
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