Efficacy of macrolides and telithromycin against leptospirosis in a hamster model

James E. Moon, Michael C. Ellis, Matthew E. Griffith, Joshua S. Hawley, Robert G. Rivard, Suzanne McCall, Duane R. Hospenthal, Clinton K. Murray*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Human studies support the use of β-lactams and tetracyclines in the treatment of leptospirosis. Additional agents from these and other classes of antimicrobials also have in vitro activity against Leptospira species, though corroborating in vivo data are limited or lacking. We evaluated the therapeutic efficacy of azithromycin, clarithromycin, and telithromycin in a lethal hamster model of leptospirosis using Leptospira interrogans serogroup Canicola serovar Portlandvere. A range of dosages for each antimicrobial was given to the infected animals on days 2 through 7 (5 days) of the 21-day survival model. All untreated control animals survived less than 10 days from infection. Ninety to 100% of doxycycline controls, treated for 5 days with 5 mg/kg of body weight of drug, survived to 21 days. Treatment with azithromycin (daily dose: 6.25, 12.5, 25, 50, 100, or 200 mg/kg) resulted in 100% survival at all evaluated doses. Animals receiving 20 mg/kg or more of clarithromycin (daily dose: 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, 40, 60, or 100 mg/kg) had improved survival. Ninety-eight percent of animals treated with telithromycin (daily dose: 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, or 40 mg/kg) survived. We conclude that all agents tested have demonstrated in vivo efficacy in treating acute leptospirosis. These results provide support for further evaluation of macrolide and ketolide antimicrobial agents in human trials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1989-1992
Number of pages4
JournalAntimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2006


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