Leptospirosis, an infection of worldwide public health importance, is caused by Leptospira bacteria that can be transmitted from animals to humans. Human infection can occur after contact with infected animals or with a Leptospira-contaminated environment usually associated with agricultural practices, contamination of household or recreational water, poor housing and waste disposal, and changes in the density or proximity of infected animal (rodents, domestic animals, and wildlife). The mechanisms involved in the transmission of the bacteria and the ecological and sociological factors that affect the likelihood of human infection are poorly understood. The objective of this project is to clarify how leptospirosis is transmitted in a community and to quantify the relative importance of the multiple sources of infection. The research team will study the ecological and sociological elements that influence human infection in rural, peri-urban and urban communities in southern Chile in order to identify effective intervention strategies for reducing the impact of leptospirosis on human health. This research is significant because it will aid in the control of leptospirosis and other serious human infections of animal origin. Broader impacts of this project include training of professionals in the area of emerging infectious diseases and global health, development of methodologies for studying the environmental sources of human infections, and the establishment of multinational and multidisciplinary partnerships for combating infectious diseases of global health importance.
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