Which histological findings are characteristic of leptospirosis?

Updated: Jul 08, 2021
  • Author: Sandra G Gompf, MD, FACP, FIDSA; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Answer

Shortly after inoculation and during the incubation period, leptospires actively replicate in the liver. The leptospires then disseminate throughout the body and infect multiple tissues.

Silver staining and immunofluorescence can identify leptospires in the liver, spleen, kidney, CNS, muscles, and heart. During the acute phase of leptospirosis, histology reveals these organisms without much inflammatory infiltrate. In addition to the finding of leptospires during histologic examination, the pathologic effects of leptospiral toxins are also apparent. 

Silver stain, liver, fatal human leptospirosis. Co Silver stain, liver, fatal human leptospirosis. Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr Martin Hicklin.

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