Serological study of Leptospira interrogans serovar Copenhageni and L. borgpetersenii serovars Tarassovi and Ballum in beef cattle, sheep and deer in New Zealand

Serological study of Leptospira interrogans serovar Copenhageni and L. borgpetersenii serovars Tarassovi and Ballum in beef cattle, sheep and deer in New Zealand
Peer reviewed

Abstract

Aims: To estimate animal-level seroprevalence of Leptospira interrogans serovar Copenhageni and L. borgpetersenii serovars Ballum and Tarassovi, in beef cattle, sheep and deer on New Zealand farms, and herd/flock-level seroprevalence of any serovar when existing same-sera data for serovars Hardjobovis and Pomona were included, and to determine associations between risk factors and animal-level seroprevalence.

Methods: Banked sera from sheep (n=82), beef (n=54) and deer (n=62) herds/flocks (n=3,878 animals) from seven regions were analysed using the microscopic agglutination test. Titres of ≥48 were designated positive. Herds/flocks were considered positive if either ≥1, ≥2 or ≥3 animals were positive. Existing same-sera data for serovars Hardjobovis and Pomona were included to establish farm-level any-serovar seropositivity. Factors associated with serological status were analysed using generalised estimating equations.

Results: Animal-level seroprevalence for serovars Ballum, Copenhageni, and Tarassovi, respectively, was 13.7 (95% CI=11.7–16.0)%, 12.6 (95% CI=10.6–14.7)% and 18.0 (95% CI=15.7–20.5)% for beef cattle, 10.5 (95% CI=9.0–12.1)%, 16.7 (95% CI=14.9–18.6)% and 14.0 (95% CI=12.4–15.8)% for sheep and 6.6 (95% CI=5.3–8.2)%, 15.5 (95% CI=13.5–17.7)% and 3.6 (95% CI=2.7–4.8)% for deer, respectively. Herd/flock-level seroprevalence for Ballum was 86.6, 52.4 and 39.0% for sheep, 85.2, 52.7 and 33.3% for beef cattle and 50.8, 27.9 and 21.3% for deer at definitions ≥1, ≥2 and ≥3 seropositive animals per species, respectively. For Copenhageni, corresponding data were 95.1, 73.2 and 56.1% for sheep, 68.5, 48.2 and 29.6% for beef cattle and 73.8, 57.4 and 41.0% for deer, and for Tarassovi, 80.5, 59.7 and 45.1% for sheep, 83.3, 68.5 and 61.1% for beef cattle, and 42.6, 16.4 and 4.9% for deer. Seropositivity to all serovars was observed from all regions, with some differences in seroprevalence observed between species and regions, but not between islands. Combining with Hardjobovis and Pomona data, herd/flock-level seropositivity for all animal species and all five Leptospira serovars was 100% at definition ≥1 animal positive, and 97.5 and 96.3% for sheep flocks, 87.8 and 97.8% for beef cattle herds, and 89.3 and 75% for deer herds at ≥2 and ≥3 animals positive, respectively.

Conclusions: Seropositivity to serovars Ballum, Copenhageni and Tarassovi is common in sheep, beef cattle and deer New Zealand and most, or all farms have ≥1 livestock species seropositive to ≥1 serovar.

Clinical relevance: Serovars Ballum, Tarassovi and Copenhageni should be considered when clinical or subclinical signs of leptospirosis are observed in sheep, beef cattle or deer. Livestock sector workers are potentially at risk of exposure.


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