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6 January 2021 Is Carriage of Leptospira interrogans by Rats Influenced by the Urban Environment or Population Density?
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Leptospira interrogans is one of the most important zoonotic pathogens globally. In urban settings, Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus) are important reservoirs of L. interrogans, but it is unclear how this bacterium is transmitted among rats. Both environmental features and rat population density may determine the prevalence of this pathogen in rat populations as well as the spillover risk to people. While these factors could play an important role in transmission between rats, it is unknown whether such factors influence prevalence among rats at a fine scale. Our objective was to determine if carriage of L. interrogans by rats could be explained by variation in the environment or in rat population density. Rats were live-trapped in a single neighborhood of Vancouver, Canada during two study periods (2011–12; 2016–17) and were tested for L. interrogans. The physical environment of each city block was recorded using a comprehensive, in-person environmental survey. Using generalized linear mixed modelling, we found no evidence of an association between carriage of L. interrogans and environmental features or rat population density, suggesting that these were not the primary drivers of its distribution among rats within this neighborhood. Understanding factors that promote L. interrogans transmission can be used to inform management approaches to minimize public health risks.

© Wildlife Disease Association 2021
Michael J. Lee, Kaylee A. Byers, Christina M. Donovan, David M. Patrick, and Chelsea G. Himsworth "Is Carriage of Leptospira interrogans by Rats Influenced by the Urban Environment or Population Density?," Journal of Wildlife Diseases 57(1), 157-161, (6 January 2021).
Received: 9 September 2019; Accepted: 27 April 2020; Published: 6 January 2021

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