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A quick test for leptospirosis

Daniel BuenoA new test that is faster than traditional ones may help diagnose leptospirosis, a disease caused by the Leptospira interrrogans bacteria and characterized by high fever and body aches.  It causes lethality in up to 15% of the over 500,000 cases reported each year throughout the world.  “We have developed a test that can be used when a patient arrives at the hospital with symptoms that suggest leptospirosis.  The confirmatory tests that currently exist require significant laboratory apparatus and may take weeks to provide results, especially in cities far from the large urban centers.  Many times the patient has recovered before the physician receives the test results.  Confirmation of the disease serves more for the purpose of epidemiological oversight than for patient care,” says Professor Guilherme de Sousa Ribeiro at the Institute of Public Health of the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA) and researcher at the Gonçalo Moniz Research Center of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) in Salvador, state of Bahia.  The new test may be used right there at the hospital and the results take only 20 minutes.  It is done using a single drop of blood placed on a small platform that contains a bacteria antigen strip.  The platform was designed by the US company Chembio, which has a technology transfer agreement with Fiocruz.  Tests gave been done on over 1,100 blood samples and in all presented 85% sensitivity in the acute phase of the disease, a rate similar to the 82% found with the ELISA test that is currently used to diagnose leptospirosis.