Molecular characterisation of Leptospira strains in Pakistan

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Introduction: Leptospirosis affects a wide range of mammals, humans, and even a few poikilothermic animal species. In Pakistan, serological studies of equine leptospirosis have reported a prevalence of over 40%, but no study has ever been conducted towards molecular detection of Leptospira in horses. Material and Methods: Blood samples from 128 horses were screened using ELISA and 41 positive samples were examined for the presence of leptospiral DNA using specific primers for 16S rRNA gene. Results: Out of 41 tested samples, 20 samples were found to be PCR-positive, revealing a fragment of 306 bp after gel electrophoresis. Sequencing and phylogenetic analysis of positive samples revealed circulation of pathogenic Leptospira spp. in Pakistani horses. No evidence of circulation of intermediate species was found in this study. Conclusion: This study reports the first molecular evidence of equine leptospirosis in Pakistan and lays ground for further research in this area. It also confirms the efficiency of 16S rRNA for the diagnosis of equine leptospirosis.

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