A rapid and quantitative method for the detection of Leptospira species in human leptospirosis


  • Edited by J.A. Cole

*Corresponding author. Tel.: +687 27 75 31; fax: +687 27 33 90., E-mail address: fmerien@pasteur.nc


Prompt laboratory diagnosis of leptospirosis infection facilitates patient management and initiation of therapy. A cost effective real-time PCR assay using SYBR Green I was developed for detection of pathogenic leptospires in serum specimens. Specific PCR products were obtained only with DNA of pathogenic Leptospira genomospecies. LightCycler PCR ability to distinguish between species was possible using melting curves, providing an approach for identification with a specific Tm assigned to a single species or set of species. Assay sensitivity was approximately 50 leptospires/ml, corresponding to one to two genome copies in a PCR mixture. Fifty-one patients who had clinical symptoms consistent with leptospirosis were tested both with a previously described rrs amplification and our real-time assay. Our LFB1 real-time assay confirmed the diagnosis for 25 patients (49%, 25/51) and revealed an estimated density of 8.0 × 101–3.9 × 104 leptospires/ml of blood. The total assay time for 12 clinical samples from sample to data analysis was less than 3 h. These data illustrate the potential of our LFB1 real-time assay for the rapid detection of leptospires in serum samples and their subsequent quantification in a single run.