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Mongooses (<i>Urva auropunctata</i>) as reservoir hosts of leptospira species in the United States Virgin Islands, 2019–2020

  • Cranford, Hannah M.
  • Browne, A. Springer
  • Lecount, Karen
  • Anderson, Tammy
  • Hamond, Camila
  • Schlater, Linda
  • Stuber, Tod
  • Burke-France, Valicia J.
  • Taylor, Marissa
  • Harrison, Cosme J.
  • Matias, Katia Y.
  • Medley, Alexandra
  • Rossow, John
  • Wiese, Nicholas
  • Jankelunas, Leanne
  • de Wilde, Leah
  • Mehalick, Michelle
  • Blanchard, Gerard L.
  • Garcia, Keith R.
  • McKinley, Alan S.
  • And 16 more
Publication Date
Nov 01, 2021
University of Nebraska - Lincoln
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During 2019–2020, the Virgin Islands Department of Health investigated potential animal reservoirs of Leptospira spp., the bacteria that cause leptospirosis. In this cross-sectional study, we investigated Leptospira spp. exposure and carriage in the small Indian mongoose (Urva auropunctata, syn: Herpestes auropunctatus), an invasive animal species. This study was conducted across the three main islands of the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), which are St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John. We used the microscopic agglutination test (MAT), fluorescent antibody test (FAT), real-time polymerase chain reaction (lipl32 rt-PCR), and bacterial culture to evaluate serum and kidney specimens and compared the sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value of these laboratory meth-ods. Mongooses (n = 274) were live-trapped at 31 field sites in ten regions across USVI and humanely euthanized for Leptospira spp. testing. Bacterial isolates were sequenced and evaluated for species and phylogenetic analysis using the ppk gene. Anti-Leptospira spp. antibodies were detected in 34% (87/256) of mongooses. Reactions were observed with the following serogroups: Sejroe, Icterohaemorrhagiae, Pyrogenes, Mini, Cynopteri, Australis, Hebdomadis, Autumnalis, Mankarso, Pomona, and Ballum. Of the kidney specimens exam-ined, 5.8% (16/270) were FAT-positive, 10% (27/274) were culture-positive, and 12.4% (34/ 274) were positive by rt-PCR. Of the Leptospira spp. isolated from mongooses, 25 were L. borgpetersenii, one was L. interrogans, and one was L. kirschneri. Positive predictive values of FAT and rt-PCR testing for predicting successful isolation of Leptospira by culture were 88% and 65%, respectively. The isolation and identification of Leptospira spp. in mongooses highlights the potential role of mongooses as a wildlife reservoir of leptospirosis; mongooses could be a source of Leptospira spp. infections for other wildlife, domestic animals, and humans.

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