Re: Leprosy and spirochete tissue controls

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Peggy Wenk replies to a question about spirochete and lepra bacilli controls. 
The old Samurai Pathologist feels very ancient - they don't teach this stuff 
in residencies much any more.

Someone on the list recently suggested a veterinary source for a spirochete 
control - namely Leptospira, and that's what I would go looking for. Dogs die 
of leptospirosis fairly often. The organism is somewhat hazardous in the 
fresh state, not when fixed. Spirochetes in general are not easy to culture, 
and Treponema pallidum, the etiologic agent of syphilis, has never been 
cultured successfully.

Leprosy requires control tissue containing the etiologic agent of the 
disease, Mycobacterium leprae, which has also never been cultured. It is an 
acid-fast organism, but it does not have the same staining characteristics as 
Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and there is no substitute for it as a control. 
Leprosy affects armadillos, and one leprous armadillo liver would supply a 
universe of histologists with controls.

Tim Morken at CDC, do you have any leads on this stuff?

Patient advocates will note that they prefer the term "Hansen's disease" for 
the human disease traditionally called leprosy, but this usage is hard to 
maintain when talking about tissue.

Bob Richmond
Samurai Pathologist
on the road in a motel in Mississippi this morning

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