Leptospira seroprevalence and associations between seropositivity, clinical disease and host factors in horses.Acta Vet Scand 2009; 51:15AV
A cross-sectional study was carried out to determine the seroprevalence of different serovars of Leptospira spp. and their association with clinical disease and host factors in Swedish horses.
Sera from 2017 horses brought to equine clinics during 1997-98 were investigated. The sera were examined by microscopic agglutination test for the presence of antibodies against the following L. interrogans serovars: Bratislava strain Jez, Icterohaemorrhagiae strain Kantorowicz and Pomona strain Pomona and also L. kirschneri sv Grippotyphosa strain Duyster and L. borgpetersenii sv Sejroe strain M 84. Host factors, disease factors, season, pasture access and outdoor confinement variables were analysed with respect to seropositivity to sv Bratislava and Icterohaemorrhagiae. Multivariable logistic regression was used to model seropositivity to sv Bratislava and Icterohaemorrhagiae (seroprevalence > 8%).
The seroprevalence, at a cut-off 1:100, were for sv Bratislava (16.6%), Icterohaemorrhagiae (8.3%), Sejroe (1.2%), Pomona (0.5%) and Grippotyphosa (0.4%). In the multivariable analysis, it was demonstrated that seroprevalence increased with age for sv Bratislava and Icterohaemorrhagiae. For sv Bratislava the seasons April - June and October - December and for sv Icterohaemorrhagiae October - December had higher seroprevalences than other seasons. Horses not used for racing had higher levels of seropositivity to sv Bratislava. Furthermore, horses with respiratory problems as well as horses with fatigue had higher levels of seropositivity to sv Bratislava. Ponies and coldbloods, and horses with access to pasture, had lower seroprevalence for sv Icterohaemorrhagiae. Healthy horses had lower seroprevalence for sv Icterohaemorrhagiae, than non-healthy horses.
There was no significant association between clinical signs and disease and positive titres to sv Bratislava (except for the association between respiratory problems and fatigue and seropositivity to sv Bratislava). The results suggest that horses with increasing age and exposed to factors associated with outdoor life had an increased seroprevalence for sv Bratislava, indicating that horses get infected from outdoor and/or are exposed to shedding from other horses (management dependent). For sv Icterohaemorrhagiae, management possibly plays a role as ponies and coldbloods as well as healthy horses had lower seroprevalence. Overall, the age of the horse should be taken into consideration when evaluating the titre as the average healthy horse has a higher titre than a young horse.