Seroprevalence of Pathogenic leptospira Serovars among owned Asymptomatic dogs in urban and periurban Kampala
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Leptospirosis in Uganda is an emerging yet neglected zoonosis especially in companion animals such as dogs, with the first clinical case being reported in 2017. In recent years, dogs have become popular pets and potentially act as one of the risk factors for human leptospiral infection due to their close interaction. The purpose of this cross-sectional study was therefore to determine the seroprevalence Leptospira serovars among owned asymptomatic dogs in urban and periurban areas in Kampala, the circulating serovars and the associated risk factors. Blood samples were collected from 288 owned asymptomatic dogs in homesteads in Makindye Division and Nansana Municipality in the first quarter of 2020 and the serum samples obtained were tested for presence of leptospiral antibodies against ten Leptospira serovars by the Microscopic Agglutination Test (MAT). A titer of ≥100 was considered positive, indicating past exposure. The overall seroprevalence was 28.47% (n=82). Serovar Australis had the highest seroprevalence (36.6%), followed by Pomona (19.61%), Grippotyphosa (16.31%), and Icterohemorrhagiae (13.73%). Exposure to more than one serovar (multiple infection) was found in up to 39.0% of the seropositive dogs. Presence of high anti-Leptospira antibody titers (≥800) in 25.49% of the seropositive dogs was found with the highest titer being 3200, consistent with acute Leptospira infection. Extent of roaming and age of the dogs and housing provided were significantly associated with Leptospira seropositivity. The dogs that roam everyday had 2 times greater chances of being seropositive than those that do not roam (OR=2.0269, 95% CI 1.0127-4.0566, P= 0.046) while those that roam a few times a week had 0.4 times less chances of being infected compared to those that do not roam (OR=0.4399, 95% CI 0.1953-0.9905, P=0.0474). Dogs that were 1-5years old had 2.7 times greater chances of being seropositive than those <1 year (OR=2.70, 95% CI 1.4194-5.1358, P=0.0025). Dogs that lived in a separate kennel had 50% less chances of being seropositive than those had no formal housing provided to them (OR=0.4679, 95% CI 0.2353-0.9303, P=0.0303). A seroprevalence of 28.47% implies that the owned asymptomatic dogs in Kampala are exposed to Leptospira infection. Therefore, the dogs should be vaccinated against the serovars found to be circulating in the dog population in Uganda as well as providing formal housing and proper feeding to lower the probability of the dogs leaving their premises. In addition, the incidence of the disease in the dog population and other species including humans need further investigation to access the risk these companion animals pose to human as a result of their close interaction.