Leptospira infection and shedding in dogs in Thailand

Kerstin Altheimer*, Prapaporn Jongwattanapisan, Supol Luengyosluechakul, Rosama Pusoonthornthum, Nuvee Prapasarakul, Alongkorn Kurilung, Els M. Broens, Jaap A. Wagenaar, Marga G.A. Goris, Ahmed A. Ahmed, Nikola Pantchev, Sven Reese, Katrin Hartmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Leptospirosis is a widespread zoonosis and has been recognized as a re-emerging infectious disease in humans and dogs, but prevalence of Leptospira shedding in dogs in Thailand is unknown. The aim of this study was to determine urinary shedding of Leptospira in dogs in Thailand, to evaluate antibody prevalence by microscopic agglutination test (MAT) and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), and to assess risk factors for Leptospira infection. In Northern, Northeastern, and Central Thailand, 273 stray (n = 119) or client-owned (n = 154) dogs from rural (n = 139) or urban (n = 134) areas were randomly included. Dogs that had received antibiotics within 4 weeks prior to sampling were excluded. No dog had received vaccination against Leptospira. Urine was evaluated by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) specific for lipL32 gene of pathogenic Leptospira. Additionally, urine was cultured for 6 months in Ellinghausen-McCullough-Johnson-Harris (EMJH) medium. Antibodies were measured by ELISA and MAT against 24 serovars belonging to 15 serogroups and 1 undesignated serogroup. Risk factor analysis was performed with backwards stepwise selection based on Wald. Results: Twelve of 273 (4.4%; 95% confidence interval (CI): 2.0-6.8%) urine samples were PCR-positive. In 1/273 dogs (0.4%; 95% CI: 0.01-1.1%) Leptospira could be cultured from urine. MAT detected antibodies in 33/273 dogs (12.1%; 95% CI: 8.2-16.0%) against 19 different serovars (Anhoa, Australis, Ballum, Bataviae, Bratislava, Broomi, Canicola, Copenhageni, Coxi, Grippotyphosa, Haemolytica, Icterohaemorrhagiae, Khorat, Paidjan, Patoc, Pyrogenes, Rachmati, Saxkoebing, Sejroe). In 111/252 dogs (44.0%; 95% CI: 37.9-50.2%) immunoglobulin M (IgM) and/or immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies were found by ELISA. Female dogs had a significantly higher risk for Leptospira infection (p = 0.023). Conclusions: Leptospira shedding occurs in randomly sampled dogs in Thailand, with infection rates comparable to those of Europe and the USA. Therefore, the potential zoonotic risk should not be underestimated and use of Leptospira vaccines are recommended.

Original languageEnglish
Article number89
JournalBMC Veterinary Research
Publication statusPublished - 17 Mar 2020


  • Canine
  • Culture
  • Dogs
  • Leptospira
  • MAT
  • PCR
  • Risk factors
  • Seroprevalence
  • Zoonosis


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