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SEROPREVALENCE OF LEPTOSPIROSIS AMONG HIGH-RISK POPULATION OF ANDAMAN ISLANDS, INDIA

SAMEER SHARMARegional Medical Research Centre (Indian Council of Medical Research), WHO Collaborating Centre for Diagnosis, Reference, Research and Training in Leptospirosis, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India

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PALURU VIJAYACHARIRegional Medical Research Centre (Indian Council of Medical Research), WHO Collaborating Centre for Diagnosis, Reference, Research and Training in Leptospirosis, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India

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ATTAYOOR P. SUGUNANRegional Medical Research Centre (Indian Council of Medical Research), WHO Collaborating Centre for Diagnosis, Reference, Research and Training in Leptospirosis, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India

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KALIMUTHUSAMY NATARAJASEENIVASANRegional Medical Research Centre (Indian Council of Medical Research), WHO Collaborating Centre for Diagnosis, Reference, Research and Training in Leptospirosis, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India

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SUBHASH C. SEHGALRegional Medical Research Centre (Indian Council of Medical Research), WHO Collaborating Centre for Diagnosis, Reference, Research and Training in Leptospirosis, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India

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Leptospirosis is a severe spirochetal zoonosis in the world. It is considered an occupational disease of persons engaged in agriculture, sewage works, forestry, and animal slaughtering. A study was conducted with an objective of assessing the seroprevalence of leptospirosis among the high-risk groups of Andaman Islands. A total of 611 sera samples from different high-risk populations were collected and tested by microscopic agglutination test (MAT). Genetic characterization of the isolate was done by randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) fingerprinting, and serological characterization was done using monoclonal antibody technique. Antibodies to leptospires were detected in 322 samples giving an overall seroprevalence of 52.7%. The seroprevalence was highest among agriculture workers (62.5%) followed by sewage workers (39.4%), animal handlers (37.5%), forest workers (27.3%), and butchers (30.0%). Seroprevalence among control population was 14.7%, which was comparatively less than that of the high-risk population groups. Subject sera were most commonly reacted with organisms of the serogroup Grippotyphosa followed by Australis, and the pattern was similar in control group. Four leptospires were isolated from agriculture workers who were admitted to the public health center (PHC) with complaints of fever and body ache. Human isolates were compared with two rodent (Rattus norvegicus) isolates from the same area of agriculture workers to get initial information about the transmission cycle of leptospirosis in the study community. Randomly amplified polymorphic DNA fingerprinting pattern of the strains recovered from the rodents and human patients were identified as belonged to genomo-species Leptospira interrogans. The antigenic characterization of the strains recovered from them belonged to serovar Valbuzzi of serogroup Grippotyphosa. The study showed that people engaged in high-risk activities such as agriculture, sewage cleaning, animal handling, animal slaughtering, and forestry are frequently exposed to leptospirosis, and hence control strategies targeting these populations could be more effective.

Author Notes

Reprint requests: Subhash C. Sehgal, Regional Medical Research Centre (ICMR), Post Bag No. 13, Port Blair 744 101, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India, Telephone: 03192-251158; 251043, Fax: 03192-251163, E-mail: pblicmr@sancharnet.in.
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