Eastern grey kangaroos (Macropus giganteus) are one of the most abundant large macropodids sharing the landscape with humans. Despite this, little is known about the prevalence of Leptospira carriage within this species and the role that they may partake in the transmission of this disease in Australia. The sera of 87 free-ranging eastern grey kangaroos, captured in the Warragamba Catchment Area, Sydney, Australia, from June 2004 to November 2006, were screened against a reference panel of 22 Leptospira serovars using the microscopic agglutination test (MAT). Leptospiral antibodies were detected in 47% (41 of 87) of serum samples collected. Leptospira weilii Topaz, a newly emergent serovar in Australia, was detected in all seropositive kangaroos (41 of 41; 100%). The sex and tailfat body condition index of kangaroos appeared to have no significant effect on the exposure to the disease. This serologic-based study is the first reported for L. weilii serovar Topaz in New South Wales, to our knowledge, having previously been isolated only in humans and two other animal species (bovine and long-nosed bandicoot [Perameles nasuta]) in Western Australia and Queensland. The potential role of eastern grey kangaroos in the maintenance and zoonotic spread of the disease to livestock and humans is discussed.
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Vol. 46 • No. 2