New insights on the infection of pathogenic Leptospira species in American mink (Neovison vison) in southern Chile.
Leptospirosis is a zoonosis of global distribution, caused by the infection of pathogenic Leptospira, a group of bacteria capable of infecting both domestic and wild animals. Mink (Neovison vison) in southern Chile is recognized as a wild and synanthropic rodent predator (among various other prey), and Leptospira infection in them can be acquired through contact with the pathogen in the environment or by eating infected prey. Thus, the aim of this study was to provide more specifics regarding the source of the infection for the American mink under the conditions of Southern Chile. Minks were captured in the Los Ríos region, southern Chile, in an area with well-developed dairy farming. Two areas were selected for mink trapping, one with a high degree of dairy farming and a second with a low degree of dairy farming. Within them, 16 study sites were visited, and 45 American mink were trapped and euthanized to obtain kidney tissue and blood serum samples for bacteria isolation and determination of antibodies titers, respectively. Molecular characterization of the isolated strains was performed. Three minks from sites of high-dairy farming industry and only one from sites with low-degree dairy farming were detected as infected through molecular confirmation. This study shows evidence that confirms previous findings made in southern Chile, regarding mink as host of Leptospira interrogans serovar Hardjo-prajitno associated to cattle-farming areas. However, typing information (Leptospira interrogans Copenhageni and Icterohaemorrhagiae) suggests that the consumption of rodents may also be a potential source of infection.