2015, Number 3
Usefulness of molecular tools to identify Leptospira spp. in human, animal and environmental samples
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ABSTRACTLeptospirosis is an endemic and potentially epidemic zoonosis affecting public health and livestock production worldwide. Its etiological agent is a spirochaete of the genus Leptospira, with 20 species reported to date, of which Leptospira interrogans (pathogenic) and Leptospira biflexa (saprophyte) are the most important. This bacterium is transmitted by direct or indirect contact with urine from infected animals, so water is one of the major transmission ways. Regarding diagnosis, many molecular tests have been evinced to have high specificity and sensitivity; however, knowledge on the epidemiology of leptospirosis has been based mainly on serological studies using the microscopic agglutination test, which has weaknesses in its results and interpretation. The aim of this article is to present an update review on the usefulness of molecular tools in the identification of Leptospira spp. in human, animal and environmental samples. A literature search was conducted in different databases such as PubMed, ScienceDirect, SciELO, Scopus and Redalyc. The publications found were original and review articles, among others, published between 1965 and 2014. It was found that the molecular tools allow direct, quick, definitive and precise identification of the etiologic agent, support the diagnosis, and contribute to real knowledge on the disease prevalence and incidence. Molecular tools enable the identification of new species isolates obtained from various sources and help guide prevention programs and control of this zoonosis.
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