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A Case–Control Study of Environmental and Occupational Risks of Leptospirosis in Sri Lanka

A Correction to this article was published on 01 September 2019

This article has been updated


Sri Lanka has one of the highest incidences of human leptospirosis worldwide. Outbreaks of this zoonotic infection are related to the monsoons and flooding. The study investigates risk factors associated with environmental, animal and occupational exposure while acknowledging the potential bias due to hanta viral infections in the study samples. Data were obtained from structured interviews with 483 patients (276 cases and 207 controls). Risk exposures were studied for the entire population and for two stratified occupational groups: non-paddy workers and paddy workers. A higher odds ratio (OR) of leptospirosis transmission for paddy workers was observed compared to non-paddy workers (OR 1.905, 95% CI 1.274–2.856). Rat exposure was not associated with a significant higher risk for any of the groups. Instead, cattle and household animals seemed to be important for transmission of leptospirosis to humans, especially among non-paddy workers (OR 10.655, 95% CI 1.213–93.582). Leptospirosis in paddy workers was associated with environmental factors linked to contamination and wetness in paddy fields. Interestingly, abandoned paddy fields were found to have a protective effect against transmission to paddy workers (OR 0.421, 95% CI 0.237–0.748). Keeping animals on these dryer fields may act as a boundary for contamination of paddy fields with infectious animal urine. This finding may be considered as a public health intervention targeting leptospirosis among paddy workers.

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Figure 1

Data Availability

The datasets generated during and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

Change history

  • 12 November 2019

    The original version of this article unfortunately contained a mistake in one of the co-author’s family name. The correct name should be Janith Warnasekara instead of Janith Warnasuriya. The original article has been corrected.


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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Peter Furu.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

“All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.”

Additional information

The original version of this article was revised: the family name of the co-author Janith Warnasekara was corrected.

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Schønning, M.H., Phelps, M.D., Warnasekara, J. et al. A Case–Control Study of Environmental and Occupational Risks of Leptospirosis in Sri Lanka. EcoHealth 16, 534–543 (2019).

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  • Zoonoses
  • Leptospirosis risk factors
  • Planetary health