Seroprevalence of leptospirosis in human groups at risk due to environmental, labor or social conditions

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Leptospirosis is important in Uruguay due to the economic loss caused by the diseases of production animals, mainly bovines, and also due to frequent human infection. We decided to study anti-Leptospira antibodies in the sera of dairy workers, rice laborers, veterinarians, suburban slum dwellers and garbage recyclers. Our aims were to estimate the seroprevalence of infection by Leptospira spp. in these people at risk, the relative importance of the known risk factors associated with infection, and the impact of human infections in each setting. Groups at risk were identified and 35 visits to their locations were made, conducting field surveys and exchange talks for information and education. Simple epidemiological questionnaires were administered and sera samples were taken from 308 persons. The microagglutination Technique (MAT) and the IgM Indirect Immunofluorescence (IIF) assay were employed to detect antibodies. Environmental water samples, canine and equine sera were also examined. More than 45% of human sera were reactive and the studied groups were confirmed to be widely exposed to infection. Female sera were frequently reactive, though most illnesses occur in men, and the most severe cases in elderly males; the emergence and evolution of the disease may strongly depend on the host condition and functions. Animal contact and unsafe water usage were the main identified risk factors to be considered in prevention. Fifty per cent of the studied horses showed a positive MAT reaction. The underdiagnosis of the illness and its long-term symptoms require further study, as well as greater health and social attention efforts.




Meny, P., Menéndez, C., Ashfield, N., Quintero, J., Rios, C., Iglesias, T., … Varela, G. (2019). Seroprevalence of leptospirosis in human groups at risk due to environmental, labor or social conditions. Revista Argentina de Microbiologia, 51(4), 324–333.

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