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J Clin Microbiol. 1989 Oct;27(10):2258-62.

Detection of leptospires in urine by polymerase chain reaction.

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N. H. Swellengrebel Laboratory for Tropical Hygiene, Royal Tropical Institute, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Primers for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) were synthesized from clones derived from a Leptospira hardjo (type hardjobovis) library. One pair of synthetic oligonucleotide primers was selected for further analysis. Under experimental conditions an amplification was obtained with DNA of Leptospira interrogans of some serovars belonging to serogroup sejroe. However, very little or no amplification was observed with DNA from other serovars of this group. No amplification was observed with DNA from other serogroups, other bacteria, or eucaryotic organisms. Cattle urine, seeded with hardjobovis, was processed in several ways and subsequently subjected to PCR. Boiling of the samples or treatment with detergents appeared to be most effective. Urine samples containing fewer than 10 leptospires gave a positive result in the PCR assay. Twenty urine samples obtained from a slaughterhouse or farm cows were investigated using the PCR assay, culture isolation, dot and quick blot hybridization, and serological tests. This comparative study suggests that amplification by PCR may be a valuable method for the detection of leptospires in cattle urine.

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