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Aust Vet J. 1994 Sep;71(9):290-4.

A review of laboratory techniques and their use in the diagnosis of Leptospira interrogans serovar hardjo infection in cattle.

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Department of Farm Animal Medicine and Production, University of Queensland, Dayboro.


This paper reviews the laboratory diagnosis of Leptospira hardjo infection in cattle. Two genotypes of L hardjo, Hardjoprajitno and Hardjobovis, have been identified in cattle, but only Hardjobovis has been isolated in Australia. There are problems with diagnosis and control of bovine leptospirosis. Infection is usually subclinical and the serological titres vary greatly in peak and duration. Leptospires may be excreted in urine for up to 18 months. Low microscopic agglutination test titres may be significant in unvaccinated herds as indicators of endemic infection. Vaccines differ in their composition, and their efficacy is difficult to evaluate. The serological response after vaccination is difficult to differentiate from the response after infection. Pregnant cows that become infected may abort, but this is usually after the serological response has peaked. Therefore, paired serum samples are of little use in diagnosing abortion caused by L hardjo. Fluorescent antibody techniques are more sensitive than dark field microscopy for detection of leptospires in urine and tissue samples. Techniques for culture have improved but are still difficult to perform and take 3 months or longer for results to be known. DNA probes and polymerase chain reaction tests are very sensitive and specific, quick to perform, and can be used on fluid and tissue samples.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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