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Fine‐scale prevalence and genetic diversity of urban small mammal‐borne pathogenic Leptospira in Africa: A spatiotemporal survey within Cotonou, Benin

Abstract : Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease that is caused by spirochete bacteria of the genus Leptospira. Around the world, one million people each year are infected, leading to 60,000 deaths. Infection occurs through contact with environmental pathogens excreted by mammals (notably rodents). Data on Leptospira and leptospirosis in Africa are rather scarce, especially in urban habitats though these appear to be favourable environments for the pathogen circulation and human contamination. Using qPCR, DNA sequencing as well as MST/VNTR approaches, we examined Leptospira occurrence and genetic diversity in 779 commensal small mammals that were sampled over 2 years in the city centre of Cotonou, Benin, from three neighbourhoods with contrasting socio-environmental conditions. Overall prevalence reached 9.1%. However, very marked variations in both space and time were observed, with local peaks of high prevalence but no clear seasonal pattern. In most sites that could be regularly sampled, Leptospira-positive rodents were found at least once, thus confirming the widespread circulation of the pathogen within small mammal communities of Cotonou. Interestingly, an unusual diversity of small mammal-borne Leptospira species and genotypes was retrieved, with up to four species and three different genovars within the same neighbourhood, and even instances of two species and two genovars identified simultaneously within the same household. To our knowledge, such a high genetic diversity has never been described at such a fine scale, a fortiori in Africa and, more generally, within an urban environment. Altogether, our results underline that much remains unknown about leptospirosis as well as the associated infectious risk in African cities where the disease may be massively over-looked.
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Submitted on : Monday, May 23, 2022 - 12:04:25 PM
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Henri-Joël Dossou, Marine Le Guyader, Philippe Gauthier, Sylvestre Badou, Jonas Etougbetche, et al.. Fine‐scale prevalence and genetic diversity of urban small mammal‐borne pathogenic Leptospira in Africa: A spatiotemporal survey within Cotonou, Benin. Zoonoses and Public Health, Wiley, In press, ⟨10.1111/zph.12953⟩. ⟨hal-03672148⟩

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