Seroprevalence of 12 serovars of pathogenic Leptospira in red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) in Poland.Acta Vet Scand 2018; 60(1):34AV
Leptospira spp. infect humans and a wide range of domestic and wild animals, but certain species such as small rodents and red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) play a particular role as reservoirs and transmission of leptospirosis as they easily adapt to many habitats including human environments. To investigate the significance of red foxes in the epidemiology of leptospirosis in Poland, a seroprevalence survey was conducted. During the 2014-2015 hunting season, blood samples of 2134 red foxes originating from the central-eastern part of Poland were collected. Serum samples were tested by a microscopic agglutination test for the presence of specific antibodies to Leptospira serovars Icterohaemorrhagiae, Grippotyphosa, Sejroe, Tarassovi, Pomona, Canicola, Hardjo, Ballum, Australis, Bataviae, Saxkoebing and Poi.
Antibodies to at least one serovar were detected in 561 sera (26.3%). The highest seroprevalence was found in the Subcarpathia (41.6%) and Warmia-Masuria (40.3%) provinces. Antibodies were mainly directed against serovars Poi (12.4%), Saxkoebing (11.3%), and Sejroe (6.0%).
Exposure of red foxes to certain Leptospira serovars seems to be common in central and eastern Poland. In addition, the high prevalence of antibodies against Leptospira spp. in foxes may indicate a potential risk of infection for humans and other species coming into contact with these animals.