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Household Characteristics Associated with Rodent Presence and Leptospira Infection in Rural and Urban Communities from Southern Chile

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  • Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Instituto de Patología Animal, Facultad de Medicina Veterinaria, Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia, Chile; Conservation Biology Graduate Program, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota

Rodents are well-recognized reservoirs of Leptospira, contributing to its maintenance in endemic areas and playing a role in the public health risk associated with the infection. This study sought to provide some insights into rodent populations from Chile and their Leptospira carriage. In total, 393 rodents were trapped in 177 households. Higher rodent counts were associated with year 2 of the study, rainfall, and number of rodent signs. There was an inverse correlation with the number of cats. The number of rodents was higher in villages compared with slums (rate ratio = 3.23) but modified by average household age. Eighty rodents (20.4%) tested positive for Leptospira: 19.7% on the farms, 25.9% in villages, and 12.3% in the slums. Prevalence was 22.5% in Mus musculus, 20.7% in Rattus rattus, 21.1% in wild rodents, and 10.3% in R. norvegicus. Seasonal and temporal effects were the major determinants of Leptospira infection in rodent populations.

Author Notes

* Address correspondence to Claudia Muñoz-Zanzi, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, 1300 South Second Street, Suite 300, Minneapolis, MN 55454. E-mail: munozzan@umn.edu

Financial support: This work was funded by National Science Foundation, Ecology of Infectious Diseases Program Project 0913570.

Authors' addresses: Claudia Muñoz-Zanzi, and Meghan Mason, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, E-mails: munozzan@umn.edu and meghanr.mason@gmail.com. Carolina Encina and Marcelo Gonzalez, Instituto de Patología Animal, Facultad de Medicina Veterinaria, Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia, Chile, E-mails: carolina.encina.o@gmail.com and marovet@yahoo.es. Sergey Berg, Conservation Biology Graduate Program, College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resources Sciences, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN, E-mail: berg1546@umn.edu.

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