Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Leptospirosis risk increases with changes in species composition of rat populations.

Abstract

Rats are major reservoirs of leptospirosis and considered as a main threat to biodiversity. A recent introduction of Rattus rattus to the island of Futuna (Western Polynesia) provided the opportunity to test if a possible change in species composition of rat populations would increase the risk of leptospirosis to humans. We trapped rodents on Wallis and Futuna and assessed Leptospira carriage in 357 rodents (Rattus norvegicus, R. rattus, Rattus exulans, and Mus domesticus) from 2008 to 2012. While Leptospira prevalence in rodents and the composition of rat populations on Futuna fluctuated with rainfall, the biomass of Leptospira-carrying rodents has been continuously rising from 2008 to 2012. Our results suggest that the introduction of R. rattus increases the risk to humans being infected with leptospirosis by rats.