Epidemiology and Infection

The epidemiology of leptospirosis and the emergence of Leptospira borgpetersenii serovar Arborea in Queensland, Australia, 1998–2004

A. T. SLACK a1c1, M. L. SYMONDS a1, M. F. DOHNT a1 and L. D. SMYTHE a1
a1 WHO/FAO/OIE Collaborating Centre for Reference & Research on Leptospirosis, Western Pacific Region, Centre for Public Health Sciences, Queensland Health Scientific Services, Brisbane, Australia

Article author query
slack at   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
symonds ml   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
dohnt mf   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
smythe ld   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


Leptospirosis is one of the most commonly encountered zoonoses in both Australia and the rest of the world. The incidence of leptospirosis in Queensland over the 7-year study period (1998–2004) was 3·1/100000 population. Enhanced surveillance questionnaires were used to collect patient data and facilitate an epidemiological investigation of leptospirosis in Queensland. Farming occupations comprised the majority of occupational exposure cases, however, recreational exposure accounted for 18% of the 883 cases. Rainfall and the presence of animal hosts had the most influence on the incidence of leptospirosis. Several trends in serovar numbers over this period are noted, in particular the emergence of L. borgpetersenii serovar Arborea, which accounted for 22% of all leptospirosis cases in Australia and 68% of South-East Queensland cases in 2004. Assessment of epidemiological trends in leptospirosis is important to obtain directed public health intervention and outcomes in the reduction of leptospirosis cases.

(Accepted March 8 2006)
(Published Online May 11 2006)

c1 39 Kessels Road, Coopers Plains, Queensland, Australia. (Email: andrew_slack@health.qld.gov.au)