Serologic titers to Leptospira in vaccinated pigs and interpretation for surveillance

PLoS One. 2021 Nov 16;16(11):e0260052. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0260052. eCollection 2021.


Diagnosis and surveillance of pathogenic Leptospira is difficult as organisms may be intermittently shed and in small numbers. Therefore, serologic testing by the microscopic agglutination test (MAT) is the primary screening method for leptospirosis. While a MAT titer ≥1:100 is considered to be a positive result, interpretation is complicated by the use of commercial vaccines in pigs. Most guidelines for interpretation of MAT titers in pigs were published in the 1970's and 1980's, prior to the development of the current multivalent vaccines. We evaluated MAT titers in routinely vaccinated healthy research pigs compared to their unvaccinated cohorts. Our study confirmed previous reports that the Pomona serovar elicits minimal antibody response even after a second booster 6 months after initial vaccination. However, MAT titers of ≥1:3,200 were detected as early as 4 weeks post initial vaccination for serovars Bratislava and Icterohaemorrhagiae and remained as high as ≥1:1,600 prior to booster at 24 weeks post vaccination. Our study determined that high levels of MAT titers can occur from vaccination alone and high titers are not necessarily indicative of infection. Therefore, the interpretation of MAT titers as indicators of Leptospira infection should be readdressed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Agglutination Tests
  • Animals
  • Leptospira / immunology*
  • Leptospirosis / diagnosis
  • Leptospirosis / immunology
  • Leptospirosis / veterinary*
  • Population Surveillance
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Serogroup
  • Swine
  • Swine Diseases / diagnosis
  • Swine Diseases / immunology*
  • Swine Diseases / microbiology
  • Vaccination / veterinary
  • Vaccines, Combined / administration & dosage*
  • Vaccines, Combined / immunology


  • Vaccines, Combined