Seroprevalence of Anti- Leptospira IgG and IgM Antibodies and Risk Assessment of Leptospirosis among Urban Poor Communities in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2019 Dec;101(6):1265-1271. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.19-0003.


Leptospirosis is a zoonotic bacterial disease caused by pathogenic species of the genus Leptospira. Disease incidence is known to be attributed to environmental and social conditions which promote the spread of reservoir hosts, primarily rodents. A well-being program was conducted to determine the seroprevalence and risk factors associated with leptospirosis in urban poor communities occupying low-cost flat accommodation and squatter settlements in the vicinity of Wilayah Persekutuan, Kuala Lumpur. Blood samples from a total of 532 volunteers were screened for the detection of IgG and IgM antibodies against leptospirosis using ELISA. Demographic data were collected for each participant through a questionnaire survey before blood collection. The overall seroprevalence was low (12.6%, n = 67/532; 95% CI: 9.9-15.7%), with 8.1% (n = 43/532) being seropositive for anti-Leptospira IgG, indicating previous infection, and 4.9% (n = 26/532) for anti-Leptospira IgM, indicating current infection. Two significant factors such as host age (P ≤ 0.01) and knowledge of disease transmission (P = 0.017) significantly influenced the presence of anti-Leptospira IgM, whereas the detection of anti-IgG indicated the presence of clean drinking water sources (P = 0.043). Despite the low prevalence, the transmission of leptospirosis does occur among urban poor communities, suggesting the need for undertaking public awareness programs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood*
  • Child
  • Diagnostic Screening Programs / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood*
  • Immunoglobulin M / blood*
  • Leptospira
  • Leptospirosis / epidemiology*
  • Leptospirosis / immunology*
  • Leptospirosis / transmission
  • Malaysia / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Poverty / statistics & numerical data
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulin M