Karius Medical Case Report: Finding Lepto | Karius
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Karius Medical Case Report: Finding Lepto

We report the following clinical scenario:

A 42-year-old female presented to hospital with fever, rash, conjunctivitis, renal failure, jaundice, and thrombocytopenia. In addition to the standard diagnostic workup, a Karius Test was sent to investigate the physician’s clinical hypothesis.

The Karius Test result was: Leptospira kirschneri

Leptospira is a bacterial genus in the phylum Spirochaetes. Commonly known as spirochetes, this group of bacteria includes not only this causative agent of the disease leptospirosis, but other notable species like Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease), Borrelia recurrenti (relapsing fever), Treponema pallidum (syphilis) and Brachyspira pilosicoli (intestinal spirochete).

There are over 250 known pathogenic serologic variants that cause leptospirosis, including Leptospira interrogans.

Primary symptoms tend to be flu-like, involving fever, chills, muscle aches, and headaches. Other possible symptoms include conjunctivitis, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, jaundice, cough, or skin rash. In more severe cases, patients can experience kidney damage, meningitis, liver failure, or respiratory distress, and the fatality rate can be as high as 5 to 15%.

Diagnosis of the disease may be based on clinical, epidemiologic and laboratory methods including serologic studies. However, the diagnosis of leptospirosis remains challenging. Treatments recommended for this disease may include penicillin or doxycycline.

In the United States, an estimated 100-150 leptospirosis cases are identified every year, most notably in Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Globally, leptospirosis is a widespread zoonotic disease, with over 1 million cases and 59,000 deaths every year.

The disease is transmitted to humans through contact with urine or other bodily fluids from infected animals, including cows, pigs, horses, dogs, rodents, and wild animals like skunks and raccoons. Another source of transmission is via contact with water, soil, or food that is contaminated with urine from infected animals. 

Because of this, occupations at higher risk of infection include farmers, sewer workers, veterinarians, hunters, and military personnel: people who work with animals or in the outdoors. Outdoor recreational activities have also been associated with acquisition of the disease

In this case, the Karius Test was able to accurately identify infection with L. kirschneri before serologic studies were available. Once the patient was identified as having leptospirosis, the appropriate treatment could be administered.  

We will discuss additional Karius Medical Case Reports in future posts.


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DISCLAIMER: Case descriptions have been modified to protect patient privacy and, while every attempt has been made to provide accurate information, errors may occur. This information is provided for educational purposes only, and is not intended to be used as medical advice.