Severe leptospirosis complicated by Epstein–Barr Virus reactivation

Introduction: Weil’s disease is a severe, potentially fatal illness following Leptospira interrogans infection. The reported case of a patient suffering from acute renal failure, jaundice, thrombocytopenia, rhabdomyolysis and encephalitis syndrome highlights the clinical challenge in reference to Weil syndrome complicated by Epstein–Barr Virus (EBV) reactivation. Materials and methods: The diagnosis of leptospirosis was performed using four different diagnostic methods. Sera were analyzed with an in-house IgM and IgG enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and indirect haemagglutination assay (IHA). Microscopic agglutination test (MAT) was done using 17 reference strains comprising 14 serogroups and 17 serovars. Polyvalent EBV-IgG analysis, EBV-IgG/IgM/IgA western blot analysis as well as quantitative EBV polymerase chain reaction (PCR) were performed. Results: Leptospira IHA showed an initial titer of 1:640 (cut-off 1:320), leptospiral IgG was negative, but IgM was positive. MAT was negative at that time for all 17 strains analyzed. One week later, leptospirosis IHA titer increased to 1:20,480. Leptospiral IgG was now positive, −IgM remained positive and urine was tested negative for leptospiral DNA. The MAT showed positive results for L. interrogans serovar Bataviae, serovar Copenhageni, serovar Pyrogenes and L. borgpetersenii serovar Serjoe. During follow-up examinations, both the leptospiral IgM and IgG remained positive and MAT showed positive results for L. interrogans of different serovars. EBV IgA immunoblot taken at admission was positive for VCA-p18, quantitative EBV-PCR showed an EBV viral load of 2.8E3 copies/ml indicating acute EBV-reactivation. Conclusion: Leptospirosis represents a neglected and re-emerging disease which is difficult to diagnose since Leptospira-PCR from whole blood or urine is frequently negative in the case of early empiric antibiotic treatment. EBV-reactivation might represent a severe complication in Weil’s disease which potentially aggravates clinical manifestations of leptospirosis including hepatitis, nephritis, and rhabdomyolysis. Thus, there might be a need for peripheral blood EBV-PCR and EBV blotting in patients suffering from complicated Weil syndrome, also in terms of the choice of antibiotic treatment.


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