Capybara (Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris), the largest rodent in the world, is widely distributed in South America. These animals live in areas with abundant water, which makes them a potential reservoir for Leptospira. The objective of this study was to investigate seroconversion, leptospiremia, and leptospiruria in capybaras experimentally infected with a virulent strain of Leptospira interrogans serovar Pomona. Seven capybaras were used: one control and six infected. Agglutinins against serovar Pomona were initially detected in serum 6 or 7 day after innoculation with Leptospira (109–1011 organisms, given i.v.), peaked (titer, ∼3,200) between 9 and 27 day, and were still present at 83 day (end of study). The earliest and latest isolation of leptospires from the blood was from 2–12 day and from urine, 9–19 day after exposure. However, polymerase chain reaction and isolation results from kidney and liver samples were negative for leptospires. The control animal tested negative on all diagnostic tests. Hence, the capybara can serve as a host for Leptospira.
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Vol. 40 • No. 4