First molecular detection of pathogenic Leptospira in livestock from slaughterhouses in Madagascar Soanandrasana Rahelinirina1, Mark Moseley2, Minoarisoa Rajerison1, Rakotoharinome Vincent Michel3, Sandra Telfer1,2 1Institut Pasteur de Madagascar, 2The University of Aberdeen, 3Direction des Services Vétérinaires Madagascar
Although leptospirosis has not been considered a significant health problem for humans or livestock in Madagascar, a recent serological study has shown evidence of exposure in humans and identified contact with cattle as a key risk factor. However, the real role of livestock such as cattle and pig in the epidemiology of human leptospirosis in Madagascar remains to be elucidated. The aims of this study were to determine the prevalence of Leptospira among livestock in Madagascar and characterize the pathogenic Leptospira species found. Kidney and urine samples from 105 cattle and 100 pigs were collected from four slaughterhouses in Madagascar in 2015. The samples were tested by a quantitative real-time PCR TaqMan assay targeting the 16sRNA gene specific to pathogenic Leptospira. Where possible, sequencing of 200-300bp of the lfb1 gene was used to identify infecting Leptospira species. Cattle had a significantly higher overall prevalence than pigs (19% vs 5%). Cattle had 13 infections detected in kidney samples and 11 in urine samples, with only 4 individuals testing positive for both sample types. Of the positive pigs, only one infection was detected in kidney compared to four infections detected in urine. Sequencing identified L. borgpetersenii and L. kirschneri in cattle. No lfb1 sequences were obtained from positive pig samples. This is the first molecular evidence of leptospirosis in livestock in Madagascar. The high prevalence in cattle provides further evidence that they could be an important source of infection for humans and also suggest that leptospirosis may have significant impacts on animal health and productivity. Moreover, our results highlight the need to consider sampling methodology when comparing studies and planning surveillance. Our results reinforce the need to take a one health approach for zoonoses like leptospirosis.
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