Biodiversity and leptospirosis risk: A case of pathogen regulation?
ABSTRACT Well balanced ecosystems have an essential role in disease regulation, and consequently their correct functioning is increasingly recognised as imperative for maintaining human health. Disruptions to ecosystems have been found to increase the risk of several diseases, including Hantavirus, Lyme disease, Ross River virus, malaria and Ciguatera fish poisoning. Leptospirosis is a globally important emerging zoonosis, caused by spirochaete bacteria, borne by many mammalian hosts, and also transmitted environmentally. We propose that leptospirosis incidence in humans is also linked to ecosystem disruption, and that reduced biodiversity (the diversity of species within an ecological community) may be associated with increased leptospirosis incidence. To investigate this hypothesis, the relationship between biodiversity levels of island nations and their annual leptospirosis incidence rates (adjusted for GDP per capita) was examined by linear correlation and regression. Supportive, statistically significant negative associations were obtained between leptospirosis incidence and (a) total number of species (r2=0.69, p<0.001) and (b) number of mammal species (r2=0.80, p<0.001) in univariate analysis. In multivariable analysis only the number of mammal species remained significantly associated (r2=0.81, p=0.007). An association between biodiversity and reduced leptospirosis risk, if supported by further research, would emphasise the importance of managing the emergence of leptospirosis (and other infectious diseases) at a broader, ecosystem level.
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ABSTRACT: Background Leptospirosis is an emerging infectious disease, with increasing frequency and severity of outbreaks, changing epidemiology of populations at risk, and the emergence of new serovars. Environmental drivers of disease transmission include flooding, urbanisation, poor sanitation, changes in land use and agricultural practices, and socioeconomic factors. In Queensland, human infection with Leptosira borgpetersenii serovar Arborea was first reported in 2001. This study aims to report the emergence of serovar Arborea in Queensland from 2001 to 2013, and investigate potential risk factors for infection and drivers of emergence. Methods Data on laboratory-confirmed cases of human leptospirosis in Queensland were obtained from the enhanced surveillance system at the WHO/FAO/OIE Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Leptospirosis in Brisbane, Australia. The changing epidemiology of serovar Arborea from 2001 to 2003 was described with respect to case numbers, proportion of leptospirosis cases attributed to the serovar, and geographic distribution. Differences in risk factors for the most common serovars were compared. Results During this period, 1289 cases of leptospirosis were reported, including 233 cases attributed to serovar Arborea. Risk factors for infection include male gender (91 % of cases), occupation, and recreational exposure. Most common occupations recorded were banana workers (28.4 %), meat workers (7.2 %), dairy farmers (5.8 %), graziers/stockmen (5.5 %), ‘other agricultural/rural workers’ (16.4 %), and tourists or tourism operators (4.6 %). Time trend analysis showed that while non-Arborea cases decreased over the study period, Arborea cases increased by 3.4 cases per year. The proportion of annual cases attributed to Arborea peaked at 49 % in 2011 after unprecedented flooding in Queensland. Mapping of cases by residential location showed expansion of the geographic range of serovar Arborea, concentrating mostly around Brisbane, Cairns and Innisfail. Serovars varied significantly between ages and occupational groups, and serovar Arborea was most strongly associated with ‘other agricultural/rural workers’. Conclusions Leptospira borgpetersenii serovar Arborea has been emerging in Queensland since 2001, with increase in case numbers, the proportion of leptospirosis infections attributed to the serovar, as well as expansion of its geographic distribution. Reasons for this emergence are unknown, but climatic factors and environmental change are likely to have played important roles. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12879-015-0982-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.BMC Infectious Diseases 06/2015; 15. DOI:10.1186/s12879-015-0982-0 · 2.56 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Leptospirosis has recently been discussed as an emerging infectious disease in many contexts, including changes in environmental drivers of disease transmission and the emergence of serovars. In this paper, we report the epidemiology of leptospiral serovars from our study of human leptospirosis in American Samoa in 2010, present evidence of recent serovar emergence, and discuss the potential epidemiological and ecological implications of our findings. Serovar epidemiology from our leptospirosis seroprevalence study in 2010 was compared to findings from a study in 2004. The variation in geographic distribution of the three most common serovars was explored by mapping sero-positive participants to their place of residence using geographic information systems. The relationship between serovar distribution and ecological zones was examined using geo-referenced data on vegetation type and population distribution. Human leptospirosis seroprevalence in American Samoa was 15.5% in 2010, with serological evidence that infection was caused by three predominant serovars (Hebdomadis, LT 751, and LT 1163). These serovars differed from those identified in an earlier study in 2004, and were not previously known to occur in American Samoa. In 2010, serovars also differed in geographic distribution, with variations in seroprevalence between islands and different ecological zones within the main island. Our findings might indicate artefactual emergence (where serovars were long established but previously undetected), but we believe the evidence is more in favour of true emergence (a result of ecological change). Possibilities include changes in interactions between humans and the environment; introduction of serovars through transport of animals; evolution in distribution and/or abundance of animal reservoirs; and environmental changes that favour transmission of particular serovars.Future research should explore the impact of ecological change on leptospirosis transmission dynamics and serovar emergence, and investigate how such new knowledge might better target environmental monitoring for disease control at a public health level.BMC Infectious Diseases 01/2012; 12:19. DOI:10.1186/1471-2334-12-19 · 2.56 Impact Factor