Leptospira Seroprevalence and Risk Factors in Health Centre Patients in Hoima District, Western Uganda

Anou Dreyfus, Jonathan W. Dyal, Raewynne Pearson, Clovice Kankya, Charles Kajura, Lordrick Alinaitwe, Steven Kakooza, Katharine M. Pelican, Dominic A. Travis, Michael Mahero, David R. Boulware, Lawrence Mugisha

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22 Scopus citations


Background: The burden of human leptospirosis in Uganda is unknown. We estimated the seroprevalence of Leptospira antibodies, probable acute/recent leptospirosis, and risk factors for seropositivity in humans in rural Western Uganda. Methodology and Principal Findings: 359 non-pregnant adults visiting the Kikuube and Kigorobya Health Centers were sequentially recruited during March and April 2014. A health history survey and serum were collected from consented participants. Overall, 69% reported having fever in the past year, with 49% reporting malaria, 14% malaria relapse, 6% typhoid fever, 3% brucellosis, and 0% leptospirosis. We tested sera by microscopic agglutination test (MAT) against eight Leptospira serovars representing seven serogroups. Leptospira seroprevalence was 35% (126/359; 95%CI 30.2–40.3%) defined as MAT titer ≥ 1:100 for any serovar. The highest prevalence was against L. borgpetersenii Nigeria (serogroup Pyrogenes) at 19.8% (71/359; 95%CI 15.9–24.4%). The prevalence of probable recent leptospirosis (MAT titer ≥1:800) was 1.9% (95%CI 0.9–4.2%) and uniquely related to serovar Nigeria (serogroup Pyrogenes). Probable recent leptospirosis was associated with having self-reported malaria within the past year (p = 0.048). Higher risk activities included skinning cattle (n = 6) with 12.3 higher odds (95%CI 1.4–108.6; p = 0.024) of Leptospira seropositivity compared with those who had not. Participants living in close proximity to monkeys (n = 229) had 1.92 higher odds (95%CI 1.2–3.1; p = 0.009) of seropositivity compared with participants without monkeys nearby. Conclusions/Significance: The 35% prevalence of Leptospira antibodies suggests that exposure to leptospirosis is common in rural Uganda, in particular the Nigeria serovar (Pyrogenes serogroup). Leptospirosis should be a diagnostic consideration in febrile illness and “smear-negative malaria” in rural East Africa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0004858
JournalPLoS neglected tropical diseases
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 3 2016

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Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Dreyfus et al.


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