Incidence of Leptospirosis in Wild Mammals from Southwestern Georgia, with a Report of New Hosts for Six Serotypes of Leptospires

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  • Communicable Disease Center, Bureau of State Services, Public Health Service, U. S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Emory University Field Station, Atlanta, Georgia

Summary

From November 4, 1954, to March 20, 1956, 1,091 mammals were trapped in southwestern Georgia. Of these, 820 were tested for leptospires by culturing kidney tissue, and 44 (5.4%) were found positive. The leptospires involved were identified by agglutination and cross-agglutinin-adsorption tests as serologically homologous to L. ballum, L. pomona, L. australis A, L. grippotyphosa, and serotype members of the L. hebdomadis and L. mitis-hyos serogroups. The hosts were as follows: opossum for L. ballum and members of the L. mitis-hyos serogroup; gray fox for L. ballum; raccoon for L. ballum, L. pomona, L. australis A, L. grippotyphosa, and a member of the L. hebdomadis serogroup; striped skunk for L. ballum and L. pomona; and wildcat for L. ballum and L. pomona. No correlation was found between the incidence of infection by a given serotype of leptospires and density of the various species of mammals or the total mammalian population.

The isolation of L. australis A., L. grippotyphosa, and organisms belonging to the L. mitis-hyos and L. hebdomadis serogroups is of primary significance. Only a few reference laboratories are routinely testing for the presence of antibodies to these pathogens in either man or domestic animals. There is a need for inclusion of antigens of these serotypes of leptospires in routine agglutination tests and for more intensive efforts to isolate leptospires from suspected cases in humans and domestic animals.

The following new host records were established: gray fox for L. ballum; raccoon for L. ballum, L. pomona, L. australis A, L. grippotyphosa, and a member of the L. hebdomadis serogroup; striped skunk for L. ballum and L. pomona; wildcat for L. ballum and L. pomona; and opossum for members of the L. mitis-hyos serogroup.

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