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Journal of the South African Veterinary Association

Print version ISSN 1019-9128


ROACH, J M; VAN VUUREN, M  and  PICARD, J A. A serological survey of antibodies to Leptospira species in dogs in South Africa. J. S. Afr. Vet. Assoc. [online]. 2010, vol.81, n.3, pp. 156-159. ISSN 1019-9128.

Leptospirosis, a disease more common in the tropics, can cause a life-threatening multisystemic syndrome in humans and animals. Immunity, whether natural or vaccineinduced, is serogroup-specific with the infecting serovars varying according to geographical locality. In South Africa, in spite of the fact that the bacterin vaccine for some Leptospira serovars is often used, there is no recent information on the incidence of canine leptospirosis as well as the infecting serovar/s. The aim of this study, which was undertaken on sera collected in 2008 and 2009 from both strays and owned dogs predominantly in the coastal regions of South Africa, was to determine the presence of leptospiral antibodies to 15 serovars known to infect dogs. Of the 530 samples tested, 25 tested positive to 7 different serovars with the microscopic agglutination test (MAT). Nine of the 25 samples tested positive to more than one serovar. The 2 serovars most frequently represented were Canicola, which reacted to 17 sera, and Pyrogenes, which reacted to 10 sera. Currently the only vaccines available in South Africa in different combinations contain serovars Canicola, Icterohaemorrhagiae, Pomona and Grippotyphosa. The results showed that the use of vaccines containing serovar Canicola is still justifiable in certain regions of the country. However, the presence of antibodies to serovar Pyrogenes in several dogs, pending a broader investigation, indicates that this serovar should also be included in the range of Leptospira vaccines for use in South Africa.

Keywords : dogs; Leptospira serovars; microscopic agglutination test; South Africa; vaccine.

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