spirochetal, spirochetic, adj.
/spuy"reuh keet'/, n.
any of various spiral-shaped motile bacteria of the family Spirochaetaceae, certain species, as Treponema, Leptospira, and Borrelia, being pathogenic to humans and other animals, and other species being free-living, saprophytic, or parasitic.
Also, spirochaete.
[1875-80; < NL spirochaeta. See SPIRO-2, CHAETA-]

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Any of an order (Spirochaetales) of spiral-shaped bacteria.

Some are serious pathogens for humans, causing such diseases as syphilis, yaws, and relapsing fever. Spirochetes are gram-negative (see gram stain) and motile. They are unique in that their flagella, which number between two and more than 200 per organism, are contained within the cell. Most spirochetes are found in a liquid environment (e.g., mud and water, blood and lymph). Several species are borne by lice and ticks, which transmit them to humans.

Scanning electron micrograph of the spirochete Treponema pallidum attached to testicular ...

ASM/Science Source

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▪ bacteria family
also spelled  spirochaete 
 (order Spirochaetales), any of a group of spiral-shaped bacteria, some of which are serious pathogens for humans, causing such diseases as syphilis, yaws, Lyme disease, and relapsing fever. Spirochetes include the genera Spirochaeta, Treponema, Borrelia, and Leptospira.

      Spirochetes are gram-negative, motile, spiral bacteria, from 3 to 500 micrometres long. Spirochetes are unique in that they have endocellular flagella (axial fibrils, or axial filaments), which number between 2 and more than 200 per organism, depending upon the species. Each axial fibril attaches at an opposite end and winds around the cell body, which is enclosed by an envelope. Spirochetes are characteristically found in a liquid environment (e.g., mud and water, blood and lymph).

      Treponema includes the agents of syphilis (T. pallidum) and yaws (T. pertenue). Borrelia includes several species transmitted by lice and ticks and causing relapsing fever (B. recurrentis and others) and Lyme disease (B. burgdorferi) in humans. Spirochaeta are free-living, nonpathogenic inhabitants of mud and water, usually in oxygen-free regions. leptospirosis, caused by Leptospira, is principally a disease of domestic and wild mammals and is a secondary infection of humans.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • spirochete — 1877, from Mod.L. Spirochæta, the genus name, from spiro Mod.L. comb. form of Gk. speira a coil (see SPIRAL (Cf. spiral)) + Gk. chaite hair …   Etymology dictionary

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