Leptospirosis is a widespread zoonosis caused by bacteria of the genus Leptospira. Rodents appear to be the most important reservoirs of infection. They contaminate the environment and food and can transmit the pathogen when they are consumed by carnivores. Capybara (Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris) are efficient reservoirs of Leptospira, and because they are in close contact with farm animals and are found in semiurban areas, they represent a risk to public health. We isolated five Leptospira strains from capybara kidneys in Sao Paulo State, Brazil, in 2001 and typed them using serologic and molecular techniques. These strains include the Leptospira santarosai serogroup Grippotyphosa serovar Bananal. Pulsed field gel electrophoresis resulted in a unique pattern distinct from the reference strains, and the isolates clustered with greater than 85% similarity. The isolates also presented higher growth rates than other Leptospira serovars, with high minimal inhibitory concentration values for most of the tested antibiotics, with the exception of penicillin and ampicillin. This isolation and characterization of the L. santarosai serogroup Grippotyphosa serovar Bananal from capybara, highlights the importance of wild and sinantropic rodents as carriers of pathogenic leptospires.
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Vol. 52 • No. 3