Seroprevalence and risk factors for rickettsia and leptospira infection in Four Ecologically Distinct Regions of Peru

Gabriela Salmon-Mulanovich*, Mark P. Simons, Carmen Flores-Mendoza, Steev Loyola, María Silva, Matthew Kasper, Hugo R. Rázuri, Luis Enrique Canal, Mariana Leguia, Daniel G. Bausch, Allen L. Richards

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Rickettsia and Leptospira spp. are under-recognized causes of acute febrile disease worldwide. Rickettsia species are often placed into the spotted fever group rickettsiae (SFGR) and typhus group rickettsiae (TGR). We explored the antibody prevalence among humans for these two groups of rickettsiae in four regions of Peru (Lima, Cusco, Puerto Maldonado, and Tumbes) and for Leptospira spp. in Puerto Maldonado and Tumbes. We also assessed risk factors for seropositivity and collected serum samples and ectoparasites from peri-domestic animals from households in sites with high human seroprevalence. In total, we tested 2,165 human sera for antibodies (IgG) against SFGR and TGR by ELISA and for antibodies against Leptospira by a microscopic agglutination test. Overall, human antibody prevalence across the four sites was 10.6% for SFGR (ranging from 6.2% to 14.0%, highest in Tumbes) and 3.3% for TGR (ranging from 2.6% to 6.4%, highest in Puerto Maldonado). Factors associated with seroreactivity against SFGR were male gender, older age, contact with backyard birds, and working in agriculture or with livestock. However, exposure to any kind of animal within the household decreased the odds ratio by half. Age was the only variable associated with higher TGR seroprevalence. The prevalence of Leptospira was 11.3% in Puerto Maldonado and 5.8% in Tumbes, with a borderline association with keeping animals in the household. We tested animal sera for Leptospira and conducted polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to detect Rickettsia species among ectoparasites collected from domestic animals in 63 households of seropositive participants and controls. We did not find any association between animal infection and human serostatus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1391-1400
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


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