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Leptospira sp., Antibodies IgM

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Serological testing for Leptospira is used for laboratory diagnosis and monitoring of leptospirosis.

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Leptospirosis (also known as Weil syndrome) is probably the most widespread zoonosis in the world. It is caused by infection with the spirochetes of the genus Leptospira and affects humans as well as a wide range of host animals. The incidence of the disease is significantly higher in countries with warm climates than in temperate regions. The disease is seasonal, with the highest incidences occurring in temperate regions in summer or autumn.  Temperature changes thereafter limit the survival of Leptospira. In hot climates, higher incidences occur during the rainy season, however, the fast drying out during the following seasons hinder the survival of micro-organisms.

The natural reservoir for the pathogen Leptospira interrogans includes rodents as well as various domesticated mammals (eg pigs, cattle and dogs). Spirochetes occupy the lumen of the renal tubules in their natural host and are excreted in the urine. The transmission of Leptospira can occur when humans come into contact, directly or indirectly, with the urine of infected animals or with the urine-infected environment. Spirochetes can enter the bloodstream through cuts of the skin or mucous membranes during contact with soil, vegetation and contaminated water, handling infected animal tissues, and eating contaminated food and water. Spirochetes are very rarely transmitted from person to person. The incubation period is usually 5-14 days, but can range from 2-30 days.

The range of clinical symptoms is extremely wide. The vast majority of Leptospira infections are either subclinical or can lead to very mild disease and treatment without complications. The clinical manifestations of leptospirosis can range from mild influenza symptoms to very serious, life-threatening forms of the disease characterized by jaundice, kidney failure, bleeding and severe pulmonary hemorrhage.

The clinical manifestation of leptospirosis is biphasic, with an acute or septic phase lasting approximately one week, followed by the immunological phase, characterized by the production of antibodies and excretion of Leptospira in the urine. Most of the complications of leptospirosis arise when Leptospira localizes in the tissues during the immune phase which occurs in the second week of the disease. The classic Weil's Syndrome represents only the most serious manifestation of the disease and is characterized by jaundice, renal failure, bleeding and myocarditis with arrhythmias.





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