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We describe Leishmania species determination on clinical samples on the basis of partial sequencing of the heat-shock protein 70 gene (hsp70), without the need for parasite isolation. The method is especially suited for use in non-endemic infectious disease clinics dealing with relatively few cases on an annual basis, for which no fast high throughput diagnostic tests are needed. We show that the results obtained from this gene are in nearly perfect agreement with those from multilocus enzyme electrophoresis, which is still considered by many clinicians and the World Health Organization (WHO) as the gold standard in Leishmania species typing. Currently, 203 sequences are available that cover the entire hsp70 gene region analysed here, originating from a total of 41 leishmaniasis endemic countries, and representing 15 species and sub-species causing human disease. We also provide a detailed laboratory protocol that includes a step-by-step procedure of the typing methodology, to facilitate implementation in diagnostic laboratories.


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