In New Zealand, the biological control of introduced bnishtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) may be the only affordable option for achieving a significant long term reduction in pest numbers on a national scale. Leptospira interrogans serovar balcanica is among the potential biocontrol agents and vectors currendy being investigated for this purpose. As the transmission pathways of L. interrogans serovar balcanica between possums are poorly understood, the objective of the study was to determine whether infection could result from exposure to contaminated environments. Sixteen individually housed, uninfected possums, in three groups, were regularly exposed over a period of 32 days to contaminated cages or grass enclosures of 16 other experimentally infected possums all shedding leptospires in their urine. None of the 16 challenged possums developed serological evidence of L. interrogans serovar balcanica infection. These results suggest that this organism is unlikely to be transmitted environmentally, supporting previous circumstantial evidence that social contact may be required for transmission of L. interrogans serovar balcanica between possums.
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Vol. 33 • No. 2