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Leishmaniasis is endemic in southern Europe, and in other European countries cases are diagnosed in travellers who have visited affected areas both within the continent and beyond. Prompt and accurate diagnosis poses a challenge in clinical practice in Europe. Different methods exist for identification of the infecting species. Sixteen clinical laboratories in 10 European countries, plus Israel and Turkey, conducted a study to assess their genotyping performance. DNA from 21 promastigote cultures of 13 species was analysed blindly by the routinely used typing method. Five different molecular targets were used, which were analysed with PCR-based methods. Different levels of identification were achieved, and either the subgenus, species complex, or actual species were reported. The overall error rate of strains placed in the wrong complex or species was 8.5%. Various reasons for incorrect typing were identified. The study shows there is considerable room for improvement and standardisation of typing. The use of well validated standard operating procedures is recommended, covering testing, interpretation, and reporting guidelines. Application of the internal transcribed spacer 1 of the rDNA array should be restricted to Old World samples, while the heat-shock protein 70 gene and the mini-exon can be applied globally.


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