Risk factors of Leptospira infection in Mediterranean periurban micromammals.
Urbanization of natural areas can change abiotic factors, providing artificial sources of humidity in summer and decreasing variation of temperatures in winter. Our study aimed at document risk factors of infection in mammal reservoirs of pathogenic Leptospira in the human/wildlife interface of a large metropolitan area. We hypothesize that survival of Leptospira and thus their prevalence in animal reservoirs should be higher in residential areas than in natural habitats, especially after the hot, dry Mediterranean summers. We established the prevalence of Leptospira spp. and identified the serovars in 353 urine samples from micromammals (chiefly the wood mouse Apodemus sylvaticus, n=266) using direct immunofluorescence and PCR. Animals were captured in spring and autumn, 2011-2012, in two natural parks and two adjacent residential areas in periurban Barcelona (NE Spain). Overall observed prevalence of infection was 11%, ranking between 8% and 13% in the better represented host species. We observed marked differences between seasons; the probability of finding a micromammal infected in spring was three times greater than in autumn (almost four times for wood mouse). Prevalence was not related with type of habitat, micromammal relative abundance or sex of the animal. Three Leptospira species were confirmed: Leptospira interrogans (47% of cases), Leptospira borgpetersenii (41%) and Leptospira kirschneri (12%). The serovars most commonly detected were those typically hosted by rodents, and serovars Ballum and Icterohemorrhagiae were the only ones found in autumn. People living in periurban Barcelona and those visiting the natural areas of the metropolitan area face hazard of infection with rodent-borne Leptospira, especially during spring.