Leptospirosis is an important zoonotic disease occurring clinically and subclinically in humans and a wide variety of mammal species worldwide. Often, rodents and wild animals are identified as important reservoirs for the disease. Twenty-two captive black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) housed within a zoo were examined as part of a routine census and preventive medicine program. During examinations, blood and urine were collected to screen for exposure to, or infection with, leptospirosis. All animals were apparently healthy at the time of examination. Leptospira microscopic agglutination test identified 12 of 22 (54.5%) prairie dogs with antibody titers ≥1 : 100 against Leptospira interrogans serovar bratislava on initial serologic examination. All prairie dogs within this collection were serologically negative for L. interrogans serovars canicola, hardjo, icterohaemorrhagiae, and pomona and Leptospira kirschneri serovar grippotyphosa. Leptospira polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing of urine was negative in all animals tested. This report describes evidence that captive prairie dogs may be exposed to leptospirosis, most likely from wild rodent reservoirs; however, serum titers are low, and lack of leptospiral DNA detected by PCR indicates that these captive animals are unlikely to be important reservoirs for the disease.
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