BMC Infect Dis. 2004 Aug 25;4:28.
External decontamination of wild leeches with hypochloric acid.
Medicinal leech, Hirudo medicinalis, has been used in plastic and reconstructive surgery, to relieve venous congestion and to improve the microrevascularization of flaps. In many countries, wild leeches are still provided from local markets and utilised with antibiotic prophylaxies. In this research, results of identification of bacteria in the transport fluid is reported, oral and intestinal floras and the antibiograms of the identified microorganisms are investigated. Also, to avoid possible infections, the ability of hypochloric acid, a disinfectant, to suppress the relevant microorganisms without changing the life style and behavior of leeches in terms of sucking function, is investigated.
Bacterial identifications and antibiograms of oral and intestinal flora and transport medium were performed for 10 leeches. The optimum concentration of hypochloric acid which eliminated microorganisms without affecting the viability and sucking function of the leeches were determined by dilution of hypochloric acid to 100, 50, 25, 12.5, 6.25 ppm concentrations in different groups of 25 leeches. Finally, 20 leeches were applied atraumatically to the bleeding areas of rats, the duration of suction was determined and compared statistically between the leeches treated and not treated with hypochloric acid solution.
Aeromonas hydrophilia was the most commonly identified microorganism and found to be resistant to first generation cephalosporins, frequently used in prophylaxis at surgical wards. In the next stages of the study, the leeches were subjected to a series of diluted hypochloric acid solutions. Although disinfection of the transport material and suppression of the oral flora of hirudo medicinalis were successful in 100, 50, 25, 12.5, 6.25 ppm concentrations; 12.5 ppm solution was the greatest concentration in which hirudo medicinalis could survive and sucking function was not affected significantly.
External decontamination of wild leeches with 12.5 ppm hypochloric acid enables bacterial suppression without causing negative effects on leech sucking function and life.