Results from 247 dogs with no history of vaccination were used. Overall seroprevalence was 25.1% (62/247) with significant differences by community type: 10.9% (9/82) in dogs from farms, 22.3% (21/94) from rural villages, and 45.1% (32/71) from urban slums (p <0.001). This trend by community type was also observed for dogs with evidence of seropositivity to the Canicola serogroup. Factors associated with seropositive dogs included dog density and precipitation two-weeks prior to sampling. Presence of Leptospira positive puddles collected from the peri-domestic household environment was also associated with increased seropositivity.
Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease of global importance and often neglected as a public health problem due to lack of awareness, under-diagnosis and under-reporting. Animals serve as a source of transmission through the shedding of Leptospira in their urine. Because of their proximity to humans, dogs may play a role in human infections. In order to assess and mitigate leptospirosis in dogs and the risk of transmission to humans it is important to understand the epidemiology of leptospirosis under natural conditions. This study aimed to characterize leptospirosis in owned dogs from three distinct community types. Blood, dog and household data were collected from 265 dogs in 190 households from 12 communities representing farms, rural villages, and urban slums in the Los Rios region, Chile. Serologic profiles with a 20-serovar microagglutination test panel were obtained. Binomial and multinomial logistic regression models were used to evaluate the associations between spatial, ecological, socio-economic variables and overall seropositivity as well as seropositivity to serogroup Canicola.
Results suggest that leptospirosis is actively maintained in the dog population in this study region with notably distinct patterns by community type. Dog populations from rural villages, and urban slums in particular, showed evidence of high levels of transmission probably as a result of the combined effects of dog living conditions as well as community-level ecological and environmental factors.