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Concomitant leptospirosis-hantavirus co-infection in acute patients hospitalized in Sri Lanka: implications for a potentially worldwide underestimated problem

  • N. P. SUNIL-CHANDRA (a1), J. CLEMENT (a2), P. MAES (a2), H. J. DE SILVA (a1), M. VAN ESBROECK (a3) and M. VAN RANST (a2)...

Summary

Two global (re-)emerging zoonoses, leptospirosis and hantavirus infections, are clinically indistinguishable. Thirty-one patients, hospitalized in Sri Lanka for acute severe leptospirosis, were after exclusion of other potentially involved pathogens, prospectively screened with IgM ELISA for both pathogens. Of these, nine (29·0%) were positive for leptospirosis only, one (3·2%) for hantavirus only, seven (22·5%) for both pathogens concomitantly, whereas 13 (41·9%) remained negative for both. Moreover, in a retrospective study of 23 former patients, serologically confirmed for past leptospirosis, six (26·0%) were also positive in two different IgG ELISA hantavirus formats. Surprisingly, European Puumala hantavirus (PUUV) results were constantly higher, although statistically not significantly different, than Asian Hantaan virus (HTNV), suggesting an unexplained cross-reaction, since PUUV is considered absent throughout Asia. Moreover, RT–PCR on all hantavirus IgM ELISA positives was negative. Concomitant leptospirosis-hantavirus infections are probably heavily underestimated worldwide, compromising epidemiological data, therapeutical decisions, and clinical outcome.

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Corresponding author

* Author for correspondence: Dr J. Clement, National Reference Centre for Hantaviruses, Clinical and Epidemiological Virology, U.Z. Gasthuisberg, Herestraat, 49, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium. (Email: jan.clement@uzleuven.be)

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