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Herd- and animal-level risk factors for bovine leptospirosis in Tanga region of Tanzania

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Leptospirosis is the zoonosis of worldwide distribution and common cause of economic loss and ill health among animals and human populations. A cross-sectional seroprevalence study, using a microscopic agglutination test (MAT) with a threshold titre of ≥1:160, to elucidate disease magnitude, distribution and associated risk factors in cattle in Tanga, Tanzania was conducted from May 2003 to January 2004. Serum (n = 655) samples collected from randomly selected herds (n = 130) were tested for antibodies against four different Leptospira interrogans serovars (Bataviae, Tarassovi, Hardjo and Pomona) used in the agglutination test. Positive titres were detected in 30.3% [95% confidence intervals (CI) = 26.7–33.9] of cattle and 58.5% (95% CI = 49.5–67.1) of herds, respectively. Of the 198 MAT positive serum samples, 98 (49.5%) were positive against serovar Hardjo, 80 (40.4%) were positive against serovar Tarassovi, 12 (6.1%) was positive against serovar Bataviae and eight (4%) were positive against serovar Pomona. Associations found to be statistically significant in univariate analyses (at P < 0.1) were assessed by multivariable logistic regression to control for confounding factors. The results showed that risk factors for cattle were pasture grazing [odd ratio (OR) = 2.83, 95% CI = 1.57–5.12, P = 0.001], presence of goats/sheep on the farm (OR = 1.73, 95% CI = 1.17–2.56, P = 0.001) and age of the animal (OR = 2.05, 95% CI = 1.42–2.96, P = 0.001), while concrete floor housing was protective (OR = 0.47, 95% CI = 0.30–0.74, P = 0.001). Herds managed under pasture grazing system were more likely to be sero-positive than those managed under zero grazed practices (OR = 9.31; 95% CI = 3.67–23.64 for grazing herd). We concluded that bovine leptospirosis is an endemic and locally widespread disease in Tanga and suggest that it may play a role in zoonotic transmission to humans.

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Deoxyribonucleic acid


Microscopic agglutination test


Hydrogen ion concentration


Tanzania shorthorn zebu


World Health Organization


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We thank all the stockmen who participated and the livestock field staff for their very considerable support and assistance. Thanks are extended to the Director of Veterinary Service, Tanzania for permission to publish this work.

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Correspondence to Emanuel Senyael Swai.

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Schoonman, L., Swai, E.S. Herd- and animal-level risk factors for bovine leptospirosis in Tanga region of Tanzania. Trop Anim Health Prod 42, 1565–1572 (2010).

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