Intestinal spirochaetes colonizing Aborigines from communities in the remote north of Western Australia

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-141
Journal / PublicationEpidemiology and Infection
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1992
Externally publishedYes


Intestinal spirochaetal bacteria were isolated from 59 of 181 (32.6%) faecal samples obtained from Aboriginal children and a few adults living in communities in the Kimberley region in the north of Western Australia. Colonization was more common in young Aborigines between 2 and 18 years of age than it was in adults or in babies and children less than 2 years of age. Three of 22 Aboriginal children who were sampled on two consecutive years were colonized on both occasions. None of four other children were found to be consistently colonized with the bacteria when sampled on three sequential years but three were positive on two consecutive visits and the other child was positive on the first and third sampling. Most aboriginal children had abnormal or watery stools, and both abnormal and watery stool samples were significantly more likely to contain spirochates than were normal samples. However, it was not possible to prove that the spirochates were the cause of the diarrhoea. In contrast, spirochactes were only recovered from 8 of 695 (1.2%) faecal samples that were obtained from other mainly non-Aboriginal children and adults in Western Australia or the Northern Territory of Australia, even though most of these individuals were suffering from gastointestinal disturbances.