Prevalence of serum antibodies against six Leptospira serovars in healthy dogs

Jennifer E. Stokes Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824-1314

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John B. Kaneene Center for Comparative Epidemiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824-1314

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William D. Schall Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824-1314

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John M. Kruger Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824-1314

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RoseAnn Miller Center for Comparative Epidemiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824-1314

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Lana Kaiser Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824-1314

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Carole A. Bolin Department of Pathobiology and Diagnostic Investigation, College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824-1314

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Abstract

Objective—To determine the prevalence of antibodies against 6 Leptospira serovars and determine risk factors associated with positive Leptospira titers in healthy client-owned dogs in Michigan.

Design—Cross-sectional study.

Animals—1,241 healthy dogs at least 4 months of age.

Procedures—Dogs were examined by veterinarians at private practices. Vaccinated and unvaccinated dogs were enrolled in the study, which occurred prior to the availability of a 4-serovar (Canicola, Grippotyphosa, Icterohaemorrhagiae, and Pomona) Leptospira vaccine. Sera were tested by use of the microscopic agglutination test to determine antibody titers against Leptospira serovars Bratislava, Canicola, Grippotyphosa, Hardjo, Icterohaemorrhagiae, and Pomona. A questionnaire was used to collect demographic information about each dog to identify risk factors associated with seropositive status.

Results—309 of 1,241 (24.9%) dogs had antibody titers against at least 1 of the 6 Leptospira serovars, which suggested exposure to Leptospira spp. Prevalence of antibodies was highest to serovar Grippotyphosa, followed by Bratislava, Canicola, Icterohaemorrhagiae, and Pomona. Age, travel outside Michigan, exercise outside fenced yards, and exposure to livestock and wildlife were significant risk factors for positive titers.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Among healthy dogs from the lower peninsula of Michigan, > 20% have antibodies against leptospiral serovars historically considered uncommon but more recently incriminated as causing clinical canine leptospirosis. Wildlife and livestock may be of increasing importance as reservoirs for canine leptospirosis as urbanization continues to occur. Expanded vaccination strategies may partially mitigate these trends.

Abstract

Objective—To determine the prevalence of antibodies against 6 Leptospira serovars and determine risk factors associated with positive Leptospira titers in healthy client-owned dogs in Michigan.

Design—Cross-sectional study.

Animals—1,241 healthy dogs at least 4 months of age.

Procedures—Dogs were examined by veterinarians at private practices. Vaccinated and unvaccinated dogs were enrolled in the study, which occurred prior to the availability of a 4-serovar (Canicola, Grippotyphosa, Icterohaemorrhagiae, and Pomona) Leptospira vaccine. Sera were tested by use of the microscopic agglutination test to determine antibody titers against Leptospira serovars Bratislava, Canicola, Grippotyphosa, Hardjo, Icterohaemorrhagiae, and Pomona. A questionnaire was used to collect demographic information about each dog to identify risk factors associated with seropositive status.

Results—309 of 1,241 (24.9%) dogs had antibody titers against at least 1 of the 6 Leptospira serovars, which suggested exposure to Leptospira spp. Prevalence of antibodies was highest to serovar Grippotyphosa, followed by Bratislava, Canicola, Icterohaemorrhagiae, and Pomona. Age, travel outside Michigan, exercise outside fenced yards, and exposure to livestock and wildlife were significant risk factors for positive titers.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Among healthy dogs from the lower peninsula of Michigan, > 20% have antibodies against leptospiral serovars historically considered uncommon but more recently incriminated as causing clinical canine leptospirosis. Wildlife and livestock may be of increasing importance as reservoirs for canine leptospirosis as urbanization continues to occur. Expanded vaccination strategies may partially mitigate these trends.

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