Seroepidemiology of canine leptospirosis on the island of Barbados

Vet Microbiol. 1997 Sep;57(2-3):215-22. doi: 10.1016/s0378-1135(97)00127-2.


Previous surveillance in Barbados documented the absence of infection with Leptospira serogroup Canicola in dogs. The aim of this study was to survey the current state of canine leptospirosis in Barbados, 10 years after the last survey. Sera from 78 unwanted dogs scheduled for euthanasia and 61 dogs suspected of having acute leptospirosis were tested by microscopic agglutination (MAT) and by an ELISA method adapted for canine IgM and IgG antibodies. The seroprevalence in unwanted dogs was 62% (48/78), at an MAT titre of > or = 100. The majority of animals had low titres, suggestive of previous infection. Serogroup Autumnalis was the most common reactor (45%), followed by serogroups Icterohaemorrhagiae and Australis (each 16%) and Pomona (13%). Serogroup Ballum was uncommon in this group. The seroprevalence determined by MAT in acutely-ill dogs was 75% (46/61). The most common predominant serogroup was Icterohaemorrhagiae (36%) followed by serogroup Australis (13%), while serogroups Autumnalis and Ballum were also of little significance. Paired specimens were available from eight acutely-ill dogs. One animal was seronegative while five dogs showed evidence of seroconversion. An IgM-ELISA titre of > or = 320 was used to confirm current infection in eight of these nine animals. Previous studies in Barbados showed a higher prevalence of serogroup Icterohaemorrhagiae than of Autumnalis, but the relative frequency of these two serogroups may be changing. The high seroprevalence in dogs is of public health concern because the close contact between dogs and man may provide the link between a reservoir in the environment and susceptible humans.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Agglutination Tests
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood
  • Barbados / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disease Reservoirs
  • Dog Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Dogs
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Euthanasia
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Immunoglobulin M / blood
  • Leptospira interrogans serovar canicola* / classification
  • Leptospira interrogans serovar canicola* / isolation & purification
  • Leptospirosis / diagnosis
  • Leptospirosis / epidemiology
  • Leptospirosis / veterinary*
  • Sentinel Surveillance / veterinary
  • Serotyping
  • Zoonoses


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulin M