Leptospirosis is a zoonotic bacterial disease found predominantly in impoverished populations inhabiting developing countries with tropical climates. Rodents are the main reservoir of the disease, excreting the bacteria in their urine. Humans are usually infected through contaminated water. Leptospirosis is estimated to cause more than one million severe cases with approximately 60,000 deaths per year. It is an emerging disease due to the growing number of inhabitants residing in urban slums and the increased frequency of extreme climatic events.Leptospirosis also affects animals worldwide, including livestock, and is therefore of economic importance. All control methods for leptospirosis implemented to date have been ineffective. The critical barrier to developing any effective interventions has been the limited understanding of pathogenesis of the disease. The “Biology of Spirochetes” Unit comprises the french National Reference Center for Leptospirosis. The main missions of the NRC are to develop and improve diagnostic techniques, to perform epidemiological investigations, and to conduct the surveillance of leptospirosis in mainland France and in the French overseas territories (Martinique, Guadeloupe, Mayotte, etc). In mainland France, 600 cases are diagnosed each year. In french overseas territories (New Caledonia, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Mayotte, La Réunion, French Polynesia, French Guyana), the incidence rate can be more than one hundred times that for mainland France. Leptospirosis has been classified as a priority disease in France and is recognized as an occupational hazard (associated with activities such as sewer maintenance and farming) by the Institute of Public Health. Early laboratory diagnosis of leptospirosis is important to provide appropriate treatment of patients and to take rapid measures in case of an outbreak. Unfortunately, leptospirosis is often diagnosed late, due to its wide spectrum of symptoms, ranging from a flu-like syndrome to renal failure. The symptoms mimic the clinical presentations of many other diseases, including dengue fever and malaria. In addition, most cases of leptospirosis are currently detected by means of a complex and fastidious serological test, but antibodies are generally not detectable in the blood until about one week after the onset of symptoms. We developed an in-house ELISA with formalin-treated and boiled bacteria from the intermediate species Leptospira fainei as an antigen to detect Leptospira-specific IgM antibodies. Compared with positive and negative sera, the ELISA showed 94% sensitivity and 99% specificity. We also evaluated a prototype point of care strip test by using the same antigen for the serological diagnosis of leptospirosis in New Caledonia, mainland France, and the French West Indies. The sensitivity was 89.8% and the specificity 93.7%. The NRC for Leptospirosis processes more than 4000 samples every year for the diagnostic of leptospirosis. It enables the NRC to update knowledge of the epidemiological traits of leptospirosis and the situation of the disease regularly. The NRC also has access to a large collection, which is regularly enriched, of Leptospira strains and serum samples from different origins. The NRC for Leptospirosis is accredited to ISO 15189 standard since 2014 for the serological techniques (MAT and IgM ELISA). The NRC participates to the Leptospirosis Burden Epidemiology Reference Group (LERG, http://www.who.int/zoonoses/diseases/lerg/en/) and Global Leptospirosis Environmental Action Network (GLEAN, http://glean-lepto.org/) working groups and plays an essential role in training students and technicians from endemic countries to diagnostic methods.
Genomic taxonomy of bacterial strains: universal nomenclatures for epidemiology and population biology
High-throughput sequencing has revolutionized our abilities to track and characterize novel bacterial strains as they emerge and disseminate globally. Genome-based epidemiological typing systems provide ultimate resolution for strain discrimination. Genome sequences may also be […]
Development and evaluation of rapid diagnostic tests on leptospirosis
Early laboratory diagnosis of leptospirosis is important to provide appropriate treatment of patients and to take rapid measures in case of an outbreak. Unfortunately, few tests possess both high sensitivity and specificity; this is […]
Bioinformatics of genome sequencing applied to epidemiological surveillance of infectious agents
The Institut Pasteur has voluminous activities of microbial strain characterisation, in the context of epidemiological surveillance, biological resource centres collections management, and research. These activities involve National Reference Centers, WHO-collaborative centers, biological resources centers […]
Molecular and serological investigations on leptospirosis
The genus Leptospira includes 35 Leptospira species, including L. mayottensis (see below), and more than 300 serovars have been described. Little is known about the circulating etiological agents of leptospirosis in most of the […]
2021International Committee on Systematics of Prokaryotes Subcommittee on the taxonomy of Leptospiraceae Minutes of the closed meeting, 10 July 2019, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada., Int J Syst Evol Microbiol 2021 Aug; 71(8): .
2021Ending the Neglect of Treatable Bacterial Zoonoses Responsible for Non-Malaria Fevers., Yale J Biol Med 2021 Jun; 94(2): 351-360.
2021Correction: 12 Novel clonal groups of Leptospira infecting humans in multiple contrasting epidemiological contexts in Sri Lanka., PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2021 May; 15(5): e0009471.
2021Leptospira dzianensis and Leptospira putramalaysiae are later heterotypic synonyms of Leptospira yasudae and Leptospira stimsonii., Int J Syst Evol Microbiol 2021 Feb; (): .
2021Pathogenic Leptospira and water quality in African cities: A case study of Cotonou, Benin., Sci Total Environ 2021 Feb; 774(): 145541.
2021Effect of disinfection agents and quantification of potentially viable Leptospira in fresh water samples using a highly sensitive integrity-qPCR assay., PLoS One 2021 ; 16(5): e0251901.
2020Circulating genotypes of Leptospira in French Polynesia : An 9-year molecular epidemiology surveillance follow-up study., PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2020 09; 14(9): e0008662.
2020First report of human Leptospira santarosai infection in French Guiana., J Infect Public Health 2020 Aug; 13(8): 1181-1183.
2020Isolation of Leptospira interrogans from a Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) in the Mediterranean Sea., J. Wildl. Dis. 2020 07; 56(3): 727-729.
2020A first insight into the genomic diversity of Leptospira strains isolated from patients in Cuba., PLoS ONE 2020 ; 15(2): e0229673.
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