Regional seroprevalence of leptospirosis on deer farms in New Zealand

Regional seroprevalence of leptospirosis on deer farms in New Zealand
Peer reviewed


AIM: To undertake a seroprevalence survey to estimate the distribution of infection by Leptospira spp. serovars Hardjobovis, Pomona and Copenhageni in farmed deer herds regionally throughout New Zealand.
METHODS: Between March 2003 and February 2005, 111 red and red x wapiti deer herds not using a leptospiral vaccine were selected from nine regions from Northland to Southland. Eighty-three herds were selected for on-farm collection of 12−20 blood samples from hinds predominantly 9−30 months of age, by jugular venepuncture, while similar numbers, predominantly males 9−30 months of age, per farm were collected from 28 herds at sticking at deer slaughter premises (DSP). Serum was stored frozen until analysed using the microscopic agglutination test (MAT). Titre cut-points of 1:24 for serovar Hardjobovis and 1:48 for serovars Pomona and Copenhageni were considered positive at the individual animal level. Herds were considered seropositive if there were at least three animals per herd seropositive to any serovar.
RESULTS: Eighty-one percent of herds were seropositive for Leptospira spp. Hardjobovis was the predominant serovar at the herd (78%) and individual animal (60.8%) levels. The seroprevalence of Pomona was 20% and 8.4% at the herd and animal levels, respectively. Dual seroreactivity to both Hardjobovis and Pomona was observed in 16% of herds and 6.6% of individuals; within-herd seroprevalence for both serovars ranged from 0 to 100%. No herds and 1.2% of animals were seropositive for serovar Copenhageni. There was a regional difference in the prevalence of herds seropositive to both Hardjobovis and Pomona (p=0.02), but no difference between regions in the prevalence of herds seropositive to either Hardjobovis or Pomona alone.
CONCLUSION: The seroprevalence of Leptospira spp. serovars is high, and distributed in farmed deer herds throughout New Zealand.
CLINICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Results confirm the risk of disease and potential loss of production in deer, and exposure of infection to humans and other livestock from deer is widespread, demonstrating that control of the disease needs to be considered at a national rather than regional level.
KEY WORDS: Deer, leptospirosis, seroprevalence, microscopic agglutination test, Hardjobovis, Pomona, Copenhageni, regional survey, New Zealand

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