International Microbiology, Vol 20, No 4 (2017)

Overview of laboratory methods to diagnose Leptospirosis and to identify and to type leptospires

Aurélie Marquez, Zoheira Djelouadji, Virginie Lattard, Angéli Kodjo


Leptospirosis is a virulent zoonosis with a global distribution. Pathogenic spirochetes of the genus Leptospira are responsible for this disease, and the primary animal reservoirs are rodentvvvs. Direct and indirect contact with infected urine constitutes the main route of transmission. Renal failure and advanced abortions are frequently observed in animals affected by leptospirosis, causing serious problems for farms. In humans, there is a high rate of mortality (10 percent), and farmers and persons in contact with water are frequently exposed. However, vaccines and strict prevention measures confer protection against leptospirosis. Serological tests facilitate the detection and identification of leptospire strains. Such tests are based on specific surface antigen recognition and are used for clinical analyses. To determine which serovars circulate in the environment, leptospires must be typed. Molecular methods, such as restriction enzyme-based techniques and the sequencing of specific regions, permit serovar identification. Unfortunately, although there are numerous techniques, they are not very efficient, and thus, new methods must be developed. With the advent of genomic sequencing, a substantial amount of information regarding leptospire genomes is now available, facilitating the selection of regions to discriminate between strains. Typing is important for both epidemiologic purposes and clinical analyses.

Keywords: Leptospirosis · zoonosis · methods · diagnosis

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