From a case of acute endocarditis of the aortic and mitral valves with infarctions m the spleen and kidneys a micrococcus was twice isolated in pure culture from the blood during life and was demonstrated after death both microscopically and in pure culture in large numbers in the valvular vegetations, the infarctions and other parts. No other species of microorganism was found.
This micrococcus is very small, occurs mainly in pairs, sometimes in short chains, stains by Gram's method, grows in small, pale, grayish-white colonies on gelatine and agar, at first clouds bouillon, which then becomes clear with a whitish sediment, does not produce gas in glucose media, liquefies gelatine slowly and to some extent also blood serum, and is especially characterized by its behavior in milk, which it acidifies, coagulates and subsequently liquefies. It produces a milk-curdling ferment and also a proteolytic ferment, each of which is separable from the bacterial cells. It remains viable for months in old cultures and is tolerably resistant to the action of heat and antiseptics.
The micrococcus is pathogenic for mice and rabbits, causing either abscesses or general infections. Typical acute vegetative endocarditis was experimentally produced by intravenous inoculation of the organism in a rabbit and a dog, and the cocci were demonstrated in pure culture in the vegetations and other parts of these animals after death.
Although the micrococcus here described has some points of resemblance to the pneumococcus and Streptococcus pyogenes on the one hand and to the pyogenic staphylococci on the other, it is readily distinguished from each of these species by cultural features which have been described and which are so obvious that the differentiation of these species from our micrococcus need not be discussed in detail. We have searched through the records concerning microorganisms described in association with endocarditis and other diseases, as well as those isolated from water, soil and other sources, and have been unable to find a description of a micrococcus identical in all particulars with that here described. Such points as staining by Gram, liquefaction of gelatine, coagulation and peptonization of milk, served singly or in combination to distinguish our micrococcus from other forms which in some respects might resemble it. We feel justified, therefore, in recognizing this organism as a new species and from its fermentative properties propose for it the name "Micrococcus zymogenes."
Micrococcus zymogenes must be added to the already considerable list of bacteria which have been found as the specific infective agents in endocarditis. That it was the cause of this affection in our case was conclusively demonstrated by its repeated isolation in pure culture from the blood during life, by its presence in pure culture and large numbers after death in the cardiac vegetations, the infarctions, and other parts of the body, and by the experimental proof of its pathogenic properties, and notably its capacity to produce vegetative endocarditis by intravenous inoculation in animals.