Marked increase in leptospirosis infections in humans and dogs in the Netherlands, 2014

Roan Pijnacker*, M.G. Goris, M.J. te Wierik, E.M. Broens, J.W. van der Giessen, M. de Rosa, J.A. Wagenaar, R.A. Hartskeerl, D.W. Notermans, K. Maassen, B. Schimmer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


In the Netherlands, 97 human leptospirosis cases were notified in 2014. This represents a 4.6-fold increase in autochthonous cases (n = 60) compared with the annual average between 2010 and 2013. Most cases had symptom onset between June and November. This marked increase in humans coincided with an increase of leptospirosis in dogs. In 2014, 13 dogs with leptospirosis were reported, compared with two to six dogs annually from 2010 to 2013. The majority of the autochthonous cases (n = 20) were linked to recreational exposure, e.g. swimming or fishing, followed by occupational exposure (n = 15). About sixty per cent (n = 37) of the autochthonous cases were most likely attributable to surface water contact, and 13 cases to direct contact with animals, mainly rats. A possible explanation for this increase is the preceding mild winter of 2013–2014 followed by the warmest year in three centuries, possibly enabling rodents and Leptospira spp. to survive better. A slight increase in imported leptospirosis was also observed in Dutch tourists (n = 33) most of whom acquired their infection in Thailand (n = 18). More awareness and early recognition of this mainly rodent-borne zoonosis by medical and veterinary specialists is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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