The Leptospirosis Reference Centre provides leptospirosis diagnostic services as well as reference materials and services at a national and international scale with a focus on economically deprived countries, mainly in the tropics where leptospirosis is endemic.
The Leptospirosis Reference Centre also serves as a knowledge centre and gives advice to researchers, policy makers, and health workers at all levels, and to international organisations such as WHO.
The laboratory diagnosis
After infection, leptospires are present in the blood until they are cleared after 5 to 10 days after onset of the disease following the production of anti-Leptospira antibodies, initially mainly of the IgM class. The laboratory diagnosis of leptospirosis relies on the detection of leptospires by culture and PCR or by detection of anti-Leptospira antibodies in patients’ blood.
The microscopic agglutination test (MAT) is the cornerstone of the serodiagnosis of leptospirosis, because this assay has a high specificity and allows for the detection of presumptive group-specific antibodies.
The IgM ELISA has the capacity to detect with a high sensitivity specific IgM antibodies as a sign of current or recent leptospirosis.
In the first few days of leptospirosis there is a diagnostic breach, as conventional serology and culture cannot provide early diagnosis. PCR is a successful method to detect Leptospira DNA in blood in the first week of infection. PCR on urine shows added value at all times. We apply a validated real-time PCR.