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Leptospira interrogans Retains Direct Virulence After Long Starvation in Water

Abstract : Mostly studied as a zoonosis, leptospirosis is also an environment-borne infection and most human cases originate from soil or water contaminations. Yet, only few studies have been interested in the survival of pathogenic Leptospira in freshwater. In this study, water microcosms were designed to evaluate the survival and virulence of Leptospira spp. for 2 years. Four commercial bottled drinking waters and a non-ionized water, all previously filter-sterilized, were studied. Either one of two Leptospira interrogans strains, one Leptospira borgpetersenii strain, or a saprophytic Leptospira biflexa was inoculated in these waters under nutrient-deprived conditions. Molecular, microscopic and cultural approaches were used to study Leptospira survival. Direct virulence of the pathogens was assessed using animal challenge without re-culturing. Our results confirmed the capacity of pathogenic Leptospira to survive for more than a year in water. In addition, we showed the ability of L. interrogans in nutrient-deprived conditions to directly cause systemic infection in susceptible animals. To our knowledge, this is the first report of direct infection of a susceptible host with Leptospira following a long starvation and survival period in nutrient-deprived water. Our results also suggest that Leptospira turned into a physiological "survival" state in harsh freshwater conditions. These data are of prime importance considering that freshwater is a major source of Leptospira infections. Environmental survival and virulence of pathogenic Leptospira spp. are becoming a crucial challenge to determine the environmental risk and adopt relevant prevention and control strategies.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-02905025
Contributor : Cyrille Goarant Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Thursday, July 23, 2020 - 4:43:56 AM
Last modification on : Friday, December 3, 2021 - 3:50:02 AM

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Emilie Bierque, Marie-Estelle Soupé-Gilbert, Roman Thibeaux, Dominique Girault, Linda Guentas, et al.. Leptospira interrogans Retains Direct Virulence After Long Starvation in Water. Current Microbiology, Springer Verlag, 2020, ⟨10.1007/s00284-020-02128-7⟩. ⟨hal-02905025⟩

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