Challenges in the diagnosis of leptospirosis outwith endemic settings: a Scottish single centre experience

C D Russell, M E Jones, D T O'Shea, K J Simpson, A Mitchell, I F Laurenson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Background Leptospirosis is a zoonotic infection occurring worldwide but endemic in tropical countries. This study describes diagnostic testing for leptospirosis at our institution in Scotland over a 10-year period. Method We identified patients with blood samples referred to the Public Health England reference laboratory for leptospirosis testing between 2006 and 2016. Results A total of 480 samples were sent for IgM ELISA testing with 26 positive results from 14 patients. Two patients met criteria for 'confirmed' leptospirosis (microscopic agglutination test > 1:320 in one case and a positive PCR in the other) and the remaining 12 were 'probable' on the basis of IgM ELISA positivity, though 9 did not have microscopic agglutination testing performed. Nine infections were imported, mostly from Asia and with a history of fresh water exposure. Three co-infections (respiratory syncytial virus, influenza B and Campylobacter sp.) were identified. Conclusions Practical issues with microscopic agglutination testing (insufficient blood sent to reference laboratory) and PCR (travellers returning > 7 days after illness onset) represent challenges to the laboratory confirmation of a clinical diagnosis of leptospirosis. Co-infection and infectious/auto-immune causes of false positive serology should be evaluated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-15
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2018


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