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Keywords:

  • leptospirosis;
  • nonhuman primates;
  • diagnosis;
  • reintroduction

Abstract

Leptospirosis is a widely distributed zoonosis that affects several species of domestic and wild animals. Under captive conditions, Leptospirosis is a potential problem because the physical conditions in most zoos and research centers cannot prevent the captive animals from being exposed to rodents, raccoons, opossums, and other local wildlife that are known carriers. Yet, despite the potential risk, animals that are destined for reintroduction into the wild are not routinely tested for anti-Leptospira antibodies before their release. The purpose of this study was to determine the occurrence of anti-Leptospira antibodies in captive New World monkeys that were housed in the Wild Animals Screening Center in Salvador, Brazil. Blood samples were collected from 44 monkeys (28 Callithrix jacchus, eight Callithrix pennicilata, and eight Cebus sp.). The animals were screened for antibodies with the microscopic agglutination test. Twenty-five (56.8%) primates were seroreactive, with Icterohaemorrhagiae being the most frequent serogroup. None of the monkeys, however, presented clinical signs of leptospirosis. Thus, seroreactivity with low titers in asymptomatic animals, as observed in this study, suggests exposure to the agent. The unexpected predominance of the serogroup Icterohaemorrhagiae further suggests that exposure to this serogroup occurred in captivity. Therefore, the dangerous possibility cannot be ignored that reintroduced monkeys will carry the leptospiral serovars into wild populations. In conclusion, primates exposed to urban serovars before their release from captivity represent a potentially significant health risk to wild populations. Am. J. Primatol. 74:8–11, 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.