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Leptospira in breast tissue and milk of urban Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus)

  • D. DE OLIVEIRA (a1), C. P. FIGUEIRA (a1), L. ZHAN (a2), A. C. PERTILE (a1), G. G. PEDRA (a1), I. M. GUSMÃO (a1), E. A. WUNDER (a2), G. RODRIGUES (a3), E. A. G. RAMOS (a1), A. I. KO (a1) (a2), J. E. CHILDS (a2), M. G. REIS (a1) (a2) (a4) and F. COSTA (a1) (a2) (a5)...

Summary

Leptospirosis is a zoonosis caused by bacteria of the genus Leptospira. The disease is globally distributed and a major public health concern. The Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus) is the main reservoir of the pathogen in urban slums of developing and developed countries. The potential routes of intra-specific leptospire transmission in rats are largely unknown. Herein, we identified pathogenic Leptospira spp. in breast tissue and milk of naturally infected rats. We examined kidney, breast tissue and milk from 24 lactating rats for the presence of leptospires using immunofluorescence, immunohistochemistry, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and scanning electronic microscopy. All 24 rats had evidence for Leptospira in the kidneys, indicating chronic carriage. The majority of kidney-positive rats had detectable leptospires in milk (18, 75%) and breast tissue (16, 67%), as evidenced by immunofluorescence assay and immunohistochemistry. Four (17%) milk samples and two (8%) breast tissue samples were positive by quantitative real-time PCR. Scanning electron microscopy confirmed the presence of leptospires in breast tissue. No major pathological changes in breast tissue were found. This study, for the first time, identified leptospires in the milk and breast tissue of wild Norway rats, suggesting the possibility of milk-borne transmission of leptospirosis to neonates.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

*Author for correspondence: Dr F. Costa, Adjunct Professor, Instituto de Saúde Coletiva, Universidade Federal da Bahia, UFBA, Salvador, Brazil, 40·110-040. (Email: federico.costa@ufba.br)

References

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Keywords

Leptospira in breast tissue and milk of urban Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus)

  • D. DE OLIVEIRA (a1), C. P. FIGUEIRA (a1), L. ZHAN (a2), A. C. PERTILE (a1), G. G. PEDRA (a1), I. M. GUSMÃO (a1), E. A. WUNDER (a2), G. RODRIGUES (a3), E. A. G. RAMOS (a1), A. I. KO (a1) (a2), J. E. CHILDS (a2), M. G. REIS (a1) (a2) (a4) and F. COSTA (a1) (a2) (a5)...

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