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Journal of the South African Veterinary Association

versão On-line ISSN 2224-9435
versão impressa ISSN 1019-9128

J. S. Afr. Vet. Assoc. vol.80 no.1 Cape Town  2009




A serological survey of leptospirosis in cattle of rural communities in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa



U W HesterbergI; R BagnallIII; B BoschIII; K PerrettIII; R HornerIII; B GummowI, II,

ISection of Epidemiology, Department of Production Animal Studies, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Private Bag X04, Onderstepoort, 0110 South Africa
IISchool of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Health and Molecular Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia
IIIVeterinary Services KwaZulu-Natal, Private Bag X2, Cascades, 3202 South Africa




A serological survey of leptospirosis in cattle originating from rural communities of the province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) in South Africa was carried out between March 2001 and December 2003. The survey was designed as a 2-stage survey, using the local diptank as the primary sampling point. In total, 2021 animals from 379 diptanks in 33 magisterial districts were sampled and tested with the microscopic agglutination test (MAT). The apparent prevalence at district level was adjusted for clustering and diagnostic test sensitivity and specificity and displayed in maps. The prevalence of leptospirosis in cattle originating from communal grazing areas of KZN was found to be 19.4 % with a 95 % confidence interval of 14.8-24.1 %. At district level the prevalence of leptospirosis varied from 0 to 63 % of cattle. Bovine leptospirosis was found to occur in communal grazing areas throughout the province with the exception of 2 districts. The southeastern regions showed a higher prevalence than other areas of the province; while in some of the northern and western districts alower prevalence was noted. Several serovars were detected by the MAT and although Leptospira interrogans serovar pomona occurred most frequently, serovars tarrasovi, bratislava, hardjo, canicola and icterohaemorrhagica were also frequently identified. The findings of the survey are discussed.

Key words: Africa, rural communities KwaZulu-Natal, leptospirosis, prevalence, zoonosis



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Received: January 2008
Accepted: February 2009



*Author for correspondence. E-mail:

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