The prevalence of Leptospira in small mammals on five Puerto Rican cattle farms
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Leptospirosis is thought to be the most widespread zoonotic disease in the world. For this study 124 mice (Mus musculus), 99 rats (Rattus rattus and R. norvegicus), and 89 small Asian mongooses (Herpestes auropunctatus) from five farms in Puerto Rico were tested for renal carriage of Leptospira and approximately 38% of the sampled individuals were positive. I evinced a heterogeneous distribution of Leptospira prevalence among the sites with a farm in Lajas having the highest prevalence at 52%. Among tested species, mice had the highest prevalence of Leptospira at 59% and mongooses had the lowest at 13%. Comparative sequence analysis of the LipL32 gene revealed the presence of two species of Leptospira: Leptospira borgpetersenii and Leptospira interrogans. These two Leptospira species were equally distributed at four farms, however, at the farm at San Sebastián 100% of the samples sequenced were of the species L. borgpetersenii. Significant associations of Leptospira prevalence with landscape features were observed at a farm in Naguabo, where the average distance of positive samples was closer to the tested landscape features than negative samples, and at the farm in Sabana Grande where the average distance of positive samples were closer to a human dwelling than the negative samples. These results show that rural areas of Puerto Rico are in need of management and longitudinal surveillance of Leptospira in order to prevent continued infection of Leptospirosis by focal susceptible species (i.e. humans and cattle).