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High prevalence of Leptospira spp. in sewer rats (Rattus norvegicus)

  • L. H. KRØJGAARD (a1) (a2) (a3), S. VILLUMSEN (a2), M. D. K. MARKUSSEN (a3), J. S. JENSEN (a2), H. LEIRS (a4) (a3) and A.-C. HEIBERG (a3)...
Abstract
SUMMARY

Earlier studies on the ecology of leptospirosis in temperate regions focused mainly on free-ranging rats in rural areas. Here we report on the occurrence of Leptospira spp. in Rattus norvegicus living in sewers in a suburban area in Copenhagen, Denmark. In 2006–2007, about 30 rats were captured in sewers at each of six different locations. Rat kidneys were screened by PCR for pathogenic Leptospira spp. In one location no infected rats were found, whereas the prevalence in the remaining five locations ranged between 48% and 89%. Micro-agglutination tests showed that serogroup Pomona, Sejroe, and Icterohaemorrhagiae were the most common. Infection was related to age with the highest prevalence observed for adult rats but there was no difference in infection rate between sexes, suggesting primarily environmental transmission. Since most reported rat problems in urban areas are related to sewer rats, the surprisingly high level of infection calls for an increased public health concern.

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Corresponding author
*Author for correspondence: L. H. Krøjgaard, Statens Serum Institut, Department of Bacteriology, Mycology and Parasitiology, building 43, room 317, Artillerivej 5, 2300Copenhagen S, Denmark. (Email: lkd@ssi.dk)
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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

1. PN Levett . Leptospirosis. Clinical Microbiology Reviews 2001; 14: 296326.

6. GI Twigg . Rat-borne leptospirosis in wildlife and on farm. Mammal Review 1973; 3: 3742.

9. A-C Heiberg . Anticoagulant resistance: a relevant issue in sewer rat (Rattus norvegicus) control? Pest Management Science 2009; 65: 444449.

10. B Seguin , Epidemiologic evaluation of a sample of 91 rats (Rattus norvegicus) captuned in the sewers of Lyon. Zentralblatt für Bakteriologie Mikrobiologie und Hygiene 1986; 261: 539546.

11. MT Faria , Carriage of Leptospira interrogans among domestic rats from an urban setting highly endemic for leptospirosis in Brazil. Acta Tropica 2008; 108: 15.

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Epidemiology & Infection
  • ISSN: 0950-2688
  • EISSN: 1469-4409
  • URL: /core/journals/epidemiology-and-infection
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