New serovars of Leptospira isolated from patients in Costa Rica: implications for public health

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Leptospira strains JICH 05 and INCIENSA 04 were isolated from hospitalized leptospirosis patients in the province of Puntarenas, Costa Rica. The isolates produced agglutination titres notably against members of serogroups Pyrogenes and Tarassovi, respectively, but appeared serologically unique in the cross agglutinin absorption test (CAAT). Therefore, JICH 05 and INCIENSA 04 were considered to represent two new serovars, designated Corredores and Costa Rica of the serogroups Pyrogenes and Tarassovi, respectively. Multilocus sequence genotyping revealed that both strain INCIENSA 04 and strain JICH 05 belong to Leptospira santarosai. These two new serovars are in addition to various other recently identified highly virulent serovars, including the new L. santarosai, serovar Arenal. Considering the fact that isolation and typing of leptospires from patients has only recently been introduced in Costa Rica, these findings suggest that various known and unknown virulent serovars of Leptospira are circulating in this country and probably beyond, thus posing a severe threat to public and probably veterinary health in the region.

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