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Leptospirosis Seroprevalence Among Blue Metal Mine Workers of Tamil Nadu, India

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  • 1 Medical Microbiology Laboratory, Department of Microbiology, Centre of Excellence in Life Sciences, Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirappalli, Tami Nadu, India.
  • | 2 Division of Cardiology, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Nebraska.

Leptospirosis is mainly considered an occupational disease, prevalent among agriculture, sewage works, forestry, and animal slaughtering populations. However, putative risk to miners and their inclusion in the high-risk leptospirosis group remain in need of rigorous analysis. Therefore, a study was conducted with the objective to assess the leptospirosis seroprevalence among miners of two districts of Tamil Nadu, India. A total of 244 sera samples from Pudukkottai miners (124) and Karur miners (120) were analyzed by microscopic agglutination test. Antibodies to leptospires were detected in 94 samples giving an overall seroprevalence of 38.5%. The seroprevalence was higher among Pudukkottai miners (65.3%) when compared with Karur miners (10.8%). Seroprevalence among control population (13%) was significantly less than that of the Pudukkottai miners marking a possible high-risk population group distinction. Subject sera most commonly reacted with organisms of the serogroup Autumnalis, and the pattern was similar in carrier animals of the study areas. Two leptospires were isolated from kidney samples of rats. The prevalence of Autumnalis among rodents and humans source tracked human leptospirosis among the miners. The study also determined that Pudukkottai miners are subjected to high-risk challenges such as exposure to water bodies on the way to the mines (odds ratio [OR] = 10.6), wet mine areas (OR = 10.6), rat infestation (OR = 4.6), and cattle rearing (OR = 10.4) and are thus frequently exposed to leptospirosis compared with Karur miners. Hence, control strategies targeting these populations will likely to prove to be effective remediation strategies benefiting Pudukkottai miners and workers in similar environments across occupations.

Author Notes

* Address correspondence to Kalimuthusamy Natarajaseenivasan, Department of Microbiology, Centre of Excellence in Life Sciences, Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirappalli 620024, Tamil Nadu, India. E-mail: natarajaseenivasan@rediffmail.com† These authors contributed equally to this work.

Financial support: This work was supported by the research grants from the Department of Science and Technology (DST Grant No: SR/SO/HS/0027/2010) and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR Grant No: 5/3/3/3/2007-ECD-I).

Authors' addresses: Sakkarai Mohamed Asha Parveen, Baskar Suganyaa, Muthu Sri Sathya, Alphonse Asirvatham Princy Margreat, Karikalacholan Sivasankari, and Kalimuthusamy Natarajaseenivasan, Medical Microbiology Laboratory, Department of Microbiology, Centre of Excellence in Life Sciences, Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, India, E-mails: cmr.asha@gmail.com, suganyaabhaskar@gmail.com, sathyasri94@gmail.com, margreat.princy28@gmail.com, sivasankaricholan@gmail.com, and natarajaseenivasan@rediffmail.com. Santhanam Shanmughapriya, Center for Translational Medicine, School of Medicine, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, E-mail: shanmughapriyasanthanam@gmail.com. Nicholas E. Hoffman, Division of Cardiology, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE, E-mail: nehoffma@unmc.edu.

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