High exposure to pathogenic leptospires by the population residing in dairy farms in Hidalgo, Mexico


Leptospirosis is a neglected zoonotic disease of unknown magnitude that has been overlooked and underreported, influenced by complex interactions established among humans, animals, and the environment; certain occupations, such as working with livestock, have an increased risk of exposure. We conducted a cross trans-sectional study in 374 serum samples obtained from workers and residents of dairy farms in the Tizayuca Basin, Hidalgo, Mexico, to determine the prevalence of anti-Leptospira antibody and the risk factors associated to this type of environment. The determination of anti-Leptospira antibodies was obtained by microscopic agglutination test. Seropositivity was defined from titles > 1:100. Seropositivity of anti-Leptospira antibodies among the population was 46.8% (176/374) (95% Cl 41.9–52.1). Thirty-nine percent (146/74) of the analyzed serum reacted to the Hardjo serovar (Sejröe serogroup). Eighty-eight percent (8/9) slaughterhouse workers tested were seropositive. Those who belonged to an ethnic group had OR 1.78 (IC 1.02–3.11, P = 0.041). Seropositivity was associated with having a secondary school level or lower, with OR 1.79 (IC 0.97–3.29, P = 0.058). Exposure to Leptospira in a dairy production farm is a risk factor for humans. Our findings can contribute to strengthening the intervention of the Public Health System to prevent this zoonosis that prevails in dairy farm environments.

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We thank MVZ Lizeth Cruz Lara and personnel of the Leptospirosis Laboratory of the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (UAM-Xochimilco) for their support processing the sera samples, to Dr. Jésica de Lira Guerrero and Dr. Eduardo Medina Flores from the Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Médicas y Nutrición Salvador Zubirán for their support in the search for workers and convincing them to donate blood, and to the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACyT) for the scholarship granted N° 413425 during the Master degree in Public Health.

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The collection of the blood samples was financed by FOMIX-CONACYT-GOB HGO-2008-C01-96469.

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All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Material preparation and data collection were performed by Anabel Ordaz-Vázquez and Orbelín Soberanis-Ramos. Data analysis was performed by Miguel Galarde-López, Miriam Bobadilla del Valle, and Luisa María Sánchez-Zamorano. The first draft of the manuscript was written by Miguel Galarde-López and Maria Elena Velazquez-Meza, and all authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Orbelín Soberanis-Ramos.

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This protocol was approved by the Research Ethics Committee and the Research and Biosecurity Committees of the National Institute of Public Health, in Mexico Reg. No. 17CEI00120130424.

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Galarde-López, M., Bobadilla-del Valle, M., Sánchez-Zamorano, L.M. et al. High exposure to pathogenic leptospires by the population residing in dairy farms in Hidalgo, Mexico. Braz J Microbiol (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s42770-021-00453-y

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  • Leptospira
  • Seroprevalence
  • Leptospirosis
  • MAT
  • Zoonoses
  • Occupational health