Extracts from 50 plant parts obtained from 39 different plants belonging to 22 families used to treat infectious diseases in Bunda district, Tanzania, were screened against twelve microorganisms, including the bacteria Bacillus cereus, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Salmonella typhimurium, the fungi Aspergillus niger, Candida albicans, and the viruses Herpes Simplex Virus type 1, Vesicular Stomatitis Virus T2, Coxsackie B2 and Semliki Forest A7. The highest activity was obtained for the n-hexane extract of Elaeodendron schlechteranum root bark against the Gram-positive bacteria Bacillus cereus (MIC 0.97 microg/ml and MBC 1.95 microg/ml) and Staphylococcus aureus (MIC 3.90 microg/ml and MBC 31.25 microg/ml). Gram-negative bacteria were less sensitive. Only Balanites aegyptiaca stem bark exhibited a high antifungal activity against Candida albicans (MIC 125 microg/ml and MFC 250 microg/ml). Extracts from four plants; Lannea schweinfurthii, Combretum adenogonium, Ficus sycomorus and Terminalia mollis showed strong antiviral activity with RF values of 10(3) and 10(4) against Herpes Simplex Virus type 1 at various concentrations. Our results support, at least in part, the use of most plants as claimed by traditional healers/informants especially against the Gram-positive bacteria Bacillus cereus and Staphylococcus aureus.
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