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Leptospirosis in New Zealand: diagnostics, strain typing and transmission

54 months
Approved budget:
Professor Jackie Benschop
Health issue:
Infectious disease
Proposal type:
Emerging Researcher First Grant
Lay summary
Leptospirosis is our most important occupationally-acquired disease. The diagnostic tests in current use perform poorly when the patient is acutely ill. This can result in poor clinical outcomes. Another issue is knowing exactly which species of animal causes infection in humans. This would allow us to put strategies in place to reduce risk. Research Objectives: To identify the best diagnostic test for acute cases of leptospirosis; and to clarify the species-specific source of human infections. Methodologies: We will run a number of diagnostic tests on samples from people who are acutely ill with leptospirosis and compare these test results. We will perform genetic comparisons of strains to see if identical types are found between humans and particular species. Potential Health Impact: Rapid diagnosis may better inform treatment choices early on in the disease, resulting in a less severe disease. Identifying the species-specific source of human infections could inform specific risk reduction strategies, such as targeted vaccination of livestock