Tropical Animal Health and Production

, Volume 46, Issue 1, pp 11-17

First online:

Leptospirosis in sheep and goats under tropical conditions

  • Gabriel MartinsAffiliated withLaboratory of Veterinary Bacteriology, Department of Microbiology and Parasitology, Universidade Federal Fluminense
  • , Walter LilenbaumAffiliated withLaboratory of Veterinary Bacteriology, Department of Microbiology and Parasitology, Universidade Federal Fluminense Email author 

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Inadequate management practices and poor reproductive performance have been reported as fundamental factors on reducing the levels of productivity in livestock. Different pathogens have been reported in small ruminants' herds/flocks with reproductive failures. The aim of the present study was to review aspects of leptospirosis in small ruminants, mainly its impact on reproduction and consequently on productivity of the herds/flocks under tropical conditions. Leptospiral infection in goats and sheep is common in several countries, and those species can also act as carriers of leptospires. Severe disease is often associated to young animals and is frequently associated to incidental serovars. In contrast, subclinical infection is mainly characterized by reproductive problems, such as infertility, abortion, occurrence of stillbirths, and weak lambs/goat kids. Moreover, laboratorial tests are essential to achieve an accurate diagnosis of the infection. Microscopic agglutination test is the most common indirect test of leptospirosis, being used worldwide. In small ruminants, PCR consists on a recommendable method for diagnosing animals that carry leptospires. Control of leptospirosis in small ruminants involves measures such as the identification and treatment of the carriers and other sources of infection, quarantine in acquired animals, and systematic immunization with commercial vaccines containing the circulating serovars in the herd/flock. Productivity of small ruminant breeding can dramatically increase with adequate sanitary conditions and control of leptospirosis. Immunization of all the animals combined to the treatment of carriers may successfully control the infection and importantly reduce the economic reproductive hazards that are observed under tropical conditions.


Leptospirosis Small ruminants Tropical scenario Reproduction