Factors that alter the dynamics of ecologic systems can influence transmission of infectious diseases and may lead to decreases in natural populations. Leptospirosis is a cosmopolitan disease of zoonotic importance that affects most mammals. At the southern Gulf of Mexico, Antillean manatees (Trichechus manatus manatus) inhabit highly variable environments, with extended floods during the rainy season and drought conditions during the dry season that affect food availability and the thermal environment for manatees. We tested for changes in prevalence and titers of antibodies to 12 serovars of Leptospira interrogans in manatees between dry and rainy seasons. We determined titers for L. interrogans through microscopic agglutination tests (MAT) from 10 manatees, six during the dry season (DS), and six during the rainy season (RS) in Laguna de las Ilusiones, a landlocked lake hosting a population of about 20 manatees. All individuals were antibody positive (titers ≥100) to at least one serovar. The serovars bataviae, bratislava, canicola, and icterohaemorrhagiae had overall prevalences ≥50%; bataviae, bratislava, and canicola had prevalences ≥50% during both seasons. Serovars icterohaemorrhagiae and pyrogenes had prevalences ≥50% during DS and pomona, tarassovi, wolfii, and autumnalis during RS. Significant differences in prevalence between seasons were found for pomona, tarassovi, and autumnalis. Titers of tarassovi, wolfii, autumnalis, and bataviae were significantly higher during RS. There was a high prevalence of L. interrogans during the RS independent of high availability of plant foods, coinciding with the epizootiology of the bacteria that are endemic to tropical regions. Another factor possibly influencing prevalence is high anthropogenic pressure at the lake, causing an increase in potential sources of infection. Because of possible cross-reaction in MAT, further research is needed on the molecular discrimination of serovars in animals in the lake.
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Vol. 50 • No. 3