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Leptospirosis in Sheep in Western Canada

  • B. Kingscote
Publication Date
May 01, 1985


A survey of 930 ovine sera and kidneys from 33 sheep was conducted to assess the rate of leptospiral infection in sheep slaughtered in Alberta. Sera were tested for the presence of agglutinins to indigenous serovars of Leptospira interrogans. Kidneys with gross lesions were examined for the presence of leptospires by means of an indirect fluorescent antibody test (FAT) and by culture. Antibodies to serovars pomona and hardjo were present at rates of 1.0% and 0.4%, respectively, in sheep from Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. Sera from 120 feedlot lambs shipped from Oregon reacted to serovars pomona, hardjo and grippotyphosa at rates of 1.7%, 61.7% and 59.1%, respectively. Fluorescent antibody test detected serovars (presumptively) hardjo in 52% of Oregon feedlot lambs and grippotyphosa in 32% of the same group, a finding supported by the isolation of both these serovars from a pool of two fluorescent antibody test-positive kidneys. The grippotyphosa strain was highly virulent for hamsters, producing intense icterus and death. Leptospires, presumptively serovar grippotyphosa were demonstrated by fluorescent antibody test in one Alberta lamb kidney. The possibility of spreading leptospirosis by movement of breeding stock through public facilities and by assembling lambs in feedlots is discussed.

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