Leptospira – PCR (DNA)

Diagnostic Use

Leptospira is a spiral shaped bacteria that causes mild to severe disease in humans. It causes Leptospirosis, which is NZs most commonly occupationally acquired infectious disease and one of the most common zoonotic diseases. Leptospirosis is spread by contact with animal urine or animal by-products. Human infection usually results from exposure to environmental sources, such as animal urine, contaminated water or soil, or infected animal tissue. Leptospira penetrate intact human mucous membranes to enter the blood stream. Portals of entry include cuts or abraded skin, mucous membranes, or conjunctivae. It has an incubation period of 2 - 7 days, followed by a septicaemic phase of 3 - 7 days. The second “immune phase” lasts 4 - 30 days or longer. Severe illness caused by Leptospira is known as Weil’s disease, which may be associated with jaundice, acute renal failure, haemorrhage, conjunctival injection, aseptic meningitis, myocarditis and respiratory distress syndrome.

Leptospirosis is a notifiable infectious disease and should be reported to the Medical Officer of Health.

PCR is important for early diagnosis during the acute phase of illness before an antibody response is mounted. This assay detects all pathogenic Leptospira spp.

Serological testing for Leptospira is useful during the convalescent phase of the disease and for serovar identification. A clotted blood sample (10 mL red top tube) should be submitted for IgM testing (antibody appears 7-10 days after onset of symptoms) and should be followed up with a convalescent sample for microscopic particle agglutination testing.


Microbiology - Virology

Delphic Registration Code


Laboratory Handling


A dedicated EDTA tube is required for PCR testing on blood


Testing is performed on routine weekdays, results available late afternoon. Urine samples require additional preparation steps that add a day to processing time.


Leptospirosis - Acute Testing
Leptospirosis - PCR (DNA)
PCR - Leptospirosis

Turnaround Time

75 hours

Test Code