Skip to main content

Seroprevalence and risk factors for Leptospira spp. in small ruminants of semi-arid zone in northeastern Colombia


Leptospirosis in small ruminants is an economically important disease that causes important losses by pathologies of the reproductive tract. The present study aimed to estimate the seroprevalence and risk factors associated with Leptospira spp. in small ruminants under traditional husbandry systems. A cross-sectional epidemiological study was carried out in a sample of 1039 animals which included 793 sheep and 245 goats from 49 farms of 10 municipalities of northeastern areas of Colombia. The MAT test using a panel of 13 laboratory serovars was performed to diagnose the Leptospira spp. antibodies in the serum samples of animals. A structured questionnaire was filled in each farm to obtain information on putative risk factors, and its association with Leptospira spp. infection was detected by univariate and multivariate logistic regression. The general seroprevalence showed a rate of 13.9%, the 79.6% of farms showed at least one positive animal, the 14.2% and 0.4% of positive animals showed titers ≥ 1:100 and 1:200, respectively. The seroprevalence in sheep and goats showed a rate of 13.1% and 16.2%, respectively. The most common serovars in positive animals were Autumnalis (3.6%), Tarassovi (3.4%), Bratislava (2.9%), Mini (2.9%), Bataviae (1.4%), Canicola (0.3%), and Grippotyphosa (0.3%). The univariate and multivariate analysis showed as risk factors the absence of housing system (OR = 3.412 CI: 1.347–8.152), the absence of quarantine measures to new animals (OR = 1.371 CI: 0.943–1.978), and the protective factor identified was the use of Toggenburg breed (OR = 0.571 CI: 0.249–1.074). This exploratory study showed the Leptospira spp. positive small ruminants located in the northeastern areas of Colombia with titer associated with chronic and subclinical infection.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1

Data availability

The authors confirm that the employed data supported the published claims, and the datasets analyzed during the study are available with the corresponding author by reasonable request.


  • Adler, B. and de la Peña Moctezuma, A., 2010. Leptospira and leptospirosis Veterinary Microbiology, 140, 287–296

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bautista, L., Suárez, F. and Huanca, W., 2014. Seroprevalencia de leptospirosis en ovinos de dos ganaderías de Puno, Perú Revista de Investigaciones Veterinarias del Perú, 25, 324–328

    Google Scholar 

  • Benkirane, A., Noury, S., Hartskeerl, R.A., Goris, M.G.A., Ahmed, A. and Nally, J.E., 2016. Preliminary Investigations on the Distribution of Leptospira Serovars in Domestic Animals in North-west Morocco Transboundary and Emerging Diseases, 63, e178–e184

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bharti, A.R., Nally, J.E., Ricaldi, J.N., Matthias, M.A., Diaz, M.M., Lovett, M.A., Levett, P.N., Gilman, R.H., Willig, M.R., Gotuzzo, E. and Vinetz, J.M., 2003. Leptospirosis: A zoonotic disease of global importance (United States)

  • Burriel, A.R., Dalley, C. and Woodward, M.J., 2003. Prevalence of Leptospira species among farmed and domestic animals in Greece Veterinary Record, 153, 146–148

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Campos, Â.P., Miranda, D.F.H., Rodrigues, H.W.S., da Silva Carneiro Lustosa, M., Martins, G.H.C., Mineiro, A.L.B.B., Castro, V., Azevedo, S.S. and de Sousa Silva, S.M.M., 2017. Seroprevalence and risk factors for leptospirosis in cattle, sheep, and goats at consorted rearing from the State of Piauí, northeastern Brazil Tropical Animal Health and Production, 49, 899–907

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Version ; 2016.(

  • Ciceroni, L., Bartoloni, A., Pinto, A., Guglielmetti, P., Valdez Vasquez, C., Gamboa Barahona, H., Roselli, M., Giannico, F. and Paradisi, F., 1997. Serological survey of leptospiral infections in sheep, goats and dogs in Cordillera Province, Bolivia New Microbiologica, 20, 77–81

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Costa, F., Hagan, J.E., Calcagno, J., Kane, M., Torgerson, P., Martinez-Silveira, M.S., Stein, C., Abela-Ridder, B. and Ko, A.I., 2015. Global Morbidity and Mortality of Leptospirosis: A Systematic Review PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 9, e0003898

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Czopowicz, M., Kaba, J., Smith, L., Szalus-Jordanow, O., Nowicki, M., Witkowski, L. and Frymus, T., 2011. Leptospiral antibodies in the breeding goat population of Poland Veterinary Record, 169, 230–230

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • da Silva Pinto, P., Libonati, H., Penna, B. and Lilenbaum, W., 2016. A systematic review on the microscopic agglutination test seroepidemiology of bovine leptospirosis in Latin America Tropical Animal Health and Production, 48, 239–248

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • de Carvalho, S.M., Mineiro, A.L.B.B., Castro, V., Genovez, M.E., Azevedo, S.S. and Costa, F.A.L., 2014. Leptospirosis seroprevalence and risk factors for sheep in Maranhão state, Brazil Tropical Animal Health and Production, 46, 491–494

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Desvars, A., Cardinale, E. and Michault, A., 2011. Animal leptospirosis in small tropical areas Epidemiology and Infection, 139, 167–188

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • dos Santos, J.P., Lima-Ribeiro, A.M.C., Oliveira, P.R., dos Santos, M.P., Júnior, Á.F., Medeiros, A.A. and Tavares, T.C.F., 2012. Seroprevalence and risk factors for Leptospirosis in goats in Uberlândia, Minas Gerais, Brazil Tropical Animal Health and Production, 44, 101–106

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dreyfus, A., Wilson, P., Benschop, J., Collins-Emerson, J., Verdugo, C. and Heuer, C., 2018. Seroprevalence and herd-level risk factors for seroprevalence of Leptospira spp. in sheep, beef cattle and deer in New Zealand New Zealand Veterinary Journal, 66, 302–311

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ellis, W.A., 2015. Animal Leptospirosis In:, B. Adler (ed), Leptospira and Leptospirosis (Current Topics in Microbiology and Immunology), (Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg: New York, NY), 99–137

  • Ellis, W.A., 1994. Leptospirosis as a Cause of Reproductive Failure Veterinary Clinics of North America: Food Animal Practice, 10, 463–478

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Ensuncho-Hoyos, C., Rodríguez-Rodríguez, V., Pérez-Doria, A., Vergara, O. and Calderón-Rangel, A., 2017. Epidemiology behavior of leptospirosis in Ciénaga de Oro, Córdoba (Colombia) Tropical Animal Health and Production, 49, 1345–1351

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Faine, S., 1982. Guidelines for the control of leptospirosis, 1st ed. (World Health Organization: Geneva, Switzerland)

    Google Scholar 

  • Gómez Moreno, L., Lara Rodriguez, D.G. and Flórez Villamizar, H.M., 2014. Caracterización de la cadena ovina y caprina en Colombia Revista Innovando en la U, 75–83

  • Habasha, F.G., and Sultan, S.H., 2010. Serological study of Leptospirosis in cattle, sheep, and goats in Baghdad Province Al- Anbar J. Vet. Sci, 3, 2001

    Google Scholar 

  • Higino, S.S.S., Santos, F.A., Costa, D.F., Santos, C.S.A.B., Silva, M.L.C.R., Alves, C.J. and Azevedo, S.S., 2013. Flock-level risk factors associated with leptospirosis in dairy goats in a semiarid region of Northeastern Brazil Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 109, 158–161

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • ICA, 2016. Censo Pecuario Nacional

  • IDEAM, 2014. Atlas climatológico de Colombia

  • Leon-Vizcaino, L., Hermoso de Mendoza, M. and Garrido, F., 1987. Incidence of abortions caused by leptospirosis in sheep and goats in Spain Comparative Immunology, Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, 10, 149–153

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Lilenbaum, W. and Martins, G., 2014. Leptospirosis in Cattle: A Challenging Scenario for the Understanding of the Epidemiology Transboundary and Emerging Diseases, 61, 63–68

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Martins, G., Brandão, F.Z., Hamond, C., Medeiros, M. and Lilenbaum, W., 2012. Diagnosis and control of an outbreak of leptospirosis in goats with reproductive failure The Veterinary Journal, 193, 600–601

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Martins, G. and Lilenbaum, W., 2017. Control of bovine leptospirosis: Aspects for consideration in a tropical environment. Research in Veterinary Science, 112, 156–160 (Elsevier Ltd)

  • Martins, G. and Lilenbaum, W., 2014. Leptospirosis in sheep and goats under tropical conditions Tropical Animal Health and Production, 46, 11–17

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mughini-Gras, L., Bonfanti, L., Natale, A., Comin, A., Ferronato, A., La Greca, E., Patregnani, T., Lucchese, L. and Marangon, S., 2014. Application of an integrated outbreak management plan for the control of leptospirosis in dairy cattle herds Epidemiology and Infection, 142, 1172–1181

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Musso, D. and La Scola, B., 2013. Laboratory diagnosis of leptospirosis: A challenge Journal of Microbiology, Immunology and Infection, 46, 245–252 (Elsevier)

  • OIE, 2018. Leptospirosis In: Manual of Diagnostic Tests and Vaccines for Terrestrial Animals,

  • Parra Solano, J.A., Rodríguez Martínez, G. and Díaz Rojas, C.A., 2016. Estudio preliminar serológico de Leptospira spp. en un rebaño ovino de la sabana de Bogotá Revista de Medicina Veterinaria, 11

  • Picardeau, M., 2015. Leptospira and Leptospirosis, Current Topics in Microbiology Curr Top Immunol, 65–97

  • Ramos, A.C.F., Souza, G.N. and Lilenbaum, W., 2006. Influence of leptospirosis on reproductive performance of sows in Brazil Theriogenology, 66, 1021–1025

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Romero-Vivas, C.M., Thiry, D., Rodríguez, V., Calderón, A., Arrieta, G., Máttar, S., Cuello, M., Levett, P.N. and Falconar, A.K., 2013. Molecular serovar characterization of Leptospira isolates from animals and water in Colombia Biomedica, 33, 179–184

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Sabarinath, T., Behera, S.K., Deneke, Y., Atif Ali, S., Kaur, G., Kumar, A., Kumar, G.R., Kumar, K.S., Sinha, D.K., Verma, M.R., Srivastava, S.K. and Chaudhuri, P., 2018. Serological evidence of anti-Leptospira antibodies in goats in various agro climatic zones of India Small Ruminant Research, 169, 74–80

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tagliabue, S., Figarolli, B.M., D’Incau, M., Foschi, G., Gennero, M.S., Giordani, R., Natale, A., Papa, P., Ponti, N., Scaltrito, D., Spadari, L., Vesco, G. and Ruocco, L., 2016. Indagine sierologica sulla presenza di Leptospira spp. in Italia: Dati nazionali 2010–2011 Veterinaria Italiana, 52, 129–138

  • Ullmann, L. and Langoni, H., 2011. Interactions between environment, wild animals and human leptospirosis Journal of Venomous Animals and Toxins including Tropical Diseases, 17, 119–129

  • Zamora, J., Kruzey, J. and Riedemann, S., 2010. Leptospirosis de los Animales Domésticos en el Sur de Chile. Estudio Serológico Zentralblatt für Veterinärmedizin Reihe B, 22, 544–555

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


The authors express gratitude to the Colombian Company of Veterinary Products VECOL S.A, AGROSAVIA, and ICA for financial, technical, and operative support during the present research.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



Blanca Lisseth Guzmán-Barragán validated the study design, developed data curation, and contributed new methods or models, and wrote a draft paper. Lorena Catalina Martínez-Rodríguez, conceptualized the study, performed research, data analysis, and contributed with new methods or study models. Julio César Tobón-Torreglosa conceptualized the study, performed research, and data analysis. Gabriel Andres Tafur-Gómez validated the study design; developed data curation and analysis; contributed with new methods or models; and wrote and edited the draft paper. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Blanca Lisseth Guzman-Barragan.

Ethics declarations

Statement of animal rights

The animals used in this study received handling and treatment under qualified veterinary supervision following the animal experimentation rules described in the International Guiding Principles for Veterinary Research Involving Animals. The owners of animals were assigned informed consent before their inclusion and the personal or farm information was treated according to habeas data Colombian laws. This study was approved by the Animal Research Bioethics Committee of Universidad de Ciencias Aplicadas y Ambientales with act number 001/2017.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Guzman-Barragan, B.L., Martínez-Rodríguez, L.C., Tobón-Torreglosa, J.C. et al. Seroprevalence and risk factors for Leptospira spp. in small ruminants of semi-arid zone in northeastern Colombia. Trop Anim Health Prod 54, 10 (2022).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • DOI:


  • Leptospirosis
  • Infectious diseases
  • Risk factors
  • Seroprevalence