SUMMARY: An assay for rapidly detecting and determining sparse populations of vegetative bacteria or bacterial spores (minimum number about 500; 2 to 4 x 10g. equivalent bacterial dry weight) is described. A sample is treated with I-labelled purified homologous antibody, filtered and washed on a Millipore membrane filter, and the radioactivity of the separated labelled immune complex is measured. The assay is specific, accurate and completed within 8 to 10 min. Sensitivity and accuracy decrease if the assay is applied to samples that contain particulate matter that non-specifically attaches antibody and is retained by a membrane filter. This type of interference is decreased by pretreating samples with clarified normal rabbit serum for a few minutes before assay.


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