Epidemiology and Infection

Review Article

Animal leptospirosis in small tropical areas


a1 Centre Régional de Recherche et de Veille sur les Maladies Emergentes de l'Océan Indien (CRVOI), Sainte-Clotilde, La Réunion

a2 Service de Bactériologie Parasitologie Virologie et Hygiène, Groupe Hospitalier Sud Réunion (GHSR), Saint Pierre, La Réunion


Leptospirosis is the most widespread zoonosis in the world. Humans become infected through contact with the urine of carrier animals, directly or via contaminated environments. This review reports available data on animal leptospirosis in ten tropical islands: Barbados, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Grenada, Trinidad, New Caledonia, Hawaii, French Polynesia, La Réunion and Mayotte. Leptospirosis is endemic in these insular wild and domestic fauna. Each island presents a specific panel of circulating serovars, closely linked with animal and environmental biodiversity, making it epidemiologically different from the mainland. Rats, mongooses and mice are proven major renal carriers of leptospires in these areas but dogs also constitute a significant potential reservoir. In some islands seroprevalence of leptospirosis in animals evolves with time, inducing changes in the epidemiology of the human disease. Consequently more investigations on animal leptospirosis in these ecosystems and use of molecular tools are essential for prevention and control of the human disease.

(Accepted August 10 2010)

(Online publication September 28 2010)


c1 Author for correspondence: Miss A. Desvars, CIRAD Pôle Elevage, Station Ligne Paradis, 7 chemin Irat, 97410 Saint-Pierre, La Réunion. (Email: amelie.desvars@cirad.fr)