Characterization of Leptospira isolates from humans and the environment in Uruguay


Rev. Inst. Med. trop. S. Paulo




ABSTRACT Laboratory diagnosis of human leptospirosis usually relies on indirect methods exploring specific immune response. Isolation and identification of the involved strains are cumbersome, but can provide biological resources for pathogenic studies and relevant information for guiding prevention and control measures. The aim of the research we are hereby reporting was the characterization of Leptospira isolates obtained from humans and the environment in Uruguay. Blood cultures were performed from early samples of 302 Uruguayan patients, mainly rural workers, and from 36 water samples taken from their living or working environments. Eight human isolates and seven environmental isolates were obtained and analyzed by end point Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), Multilocus Variable Number of Tandem Repeat Analysis (MLVA) and other molecular methods. Human isolates corresponded to several serogroups and serovars of Leptospira interrogans and Leptospira kirschneri species, probably reflecting the infection with similar involved Leptospira species and serovars of an extended animal reservoir in rural settings of the country, mostly dedicated to meat and dairy production. Culture-positive patients were older than usually affected workers, and presented signs and symptoms of severe illness. A high organic and circulating bacterial burden may explain an easier positive result from these workers’ samples. Environmental isolates were mainly identified as Leptospira biflexa strains, with a single L. meyeri isolate of uncertain significance.

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