Epidemiology and Infection

Special Article

Leptospiral infection in school-children from Trinidad and Barbados

C. O. R Everarda1, R. J. Hayesa2 and C. N. Edwardsa3

a1 MRC/Government of Barbados Leptospirosis Project, Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, The Pine, St Michael, Barbados

a2 Tropical Epidemiology Unit, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT

a3 Queen Elizabeth Hospital, St Michael, Barbados


A serological survey for leptospiral agglutinins was undertaken between 1980 and 1983 in over 500 Barbadian and 500 Trinidadian school-children aged 7–14 years. The children were selected randomly from urban and rural schools, and examined three times at approximately annual intervals. A total of 12·5% of the Barbadian children and 9·5% of the Trinidadian children were seropositive at a titre of 50 using the microscopic agglutination test. On both islands, seroprevalence was higher in males than females, the difference being significant in rural schools. There was no evidence of a difference in prevalence between urban and rural schools, or between junior and secondary age-ranges. Analysis of the association of serology with socio-economic and behavioural factors showed a significant association in Trinidad with father's occupation, but most other variables on both islands showed only weak non-significant associations. Fourteen children in Trinidad and three in Barbados seroconverted. Seroconversion in Trinidad occurred at a rate of 1·6% per annum and was significantly associated with livestock contact and with absence of a tapped water supply. In Trinidad, Autumnalis was the most commonly recorded serogroup, but this accounted for less than a quarter of seropositives. In Barbados, Panama accounted for over half the seropositives and was about four times more common than the next most common serogroup, Autumnalis. In Barbados, 39 persons aged 19 or less were hospitalized with leptospirosis between November 1979 and December 1986. Average annual incidence rates were 2·2, 4·9 and 13·3 per 100000 in the 5·9, 10·14 and 15·19 age-groups, respectively.

(Accepted March 19 1989)