Leptospira - microscopic agglutination test (MAT)

Leptospira – microscopic agglutination test (MAT)

Species: Ovine, cervine, bovine, caprine, llamoid, canine, equine, porcine

Specimen: Serum

Container: Red top or gel tube

Collection protocol: Venepuncture

Special handling/shipping requirements:  Standard

General information about the disease:

Leptospirosis is a zoonosis caused by one of the many pathogenic serotypes of the genus Leptospira, a spirochete that is transmitted by direct contact of abraded skin or mucous membranes with urine or tissues of an infected animal or, more commonly, by indirect contact with mud or water contaminated by urine of infected animals. The MAT is a serum test and encompasses a wide variety of serovars. High titres usually indicate recent infection, while low titres suggest chronic infection or residual antibody in a recovered or vaccinated animal.

Low titres may be interpreted in a number of ways:

  • Very recent infection (clinical signs required to be present) and titre still rising
  • Chronic infection (may be subclinical, especially L. hardjo)
  • Convalescent titre
  • Maternal antibody in calves
  • Cross reaction to other serovars
  • Vaccination titres

In dogs leptospirosis is a cause of liver and renal failure. If sera test negative in highly likely cases, it may be due to acuteness of disease and should not necessarily be taken as a true negative. Convalescent sera is recommended in this situation.

General information about when this test is indicated:

To confirm if clinical disease is due to leptospira infection soon after infection and in convalescent sera.

Comparison with other related tests: 

  • Leptospira MAT panel – includes 4 serovars – Hardjo, Pomona, Tarrasovi and Copenhageni
  • PCR can be used to detect the presence of leptospira in blood or urine in acute cases.