Seroprevalence of Leptospira infection in bats roosting in human settlements in Morogoro municipality in Tanzania
Leptospirosis is a neglected emerging infectious disease with high burden in Africa. Major reservoirs of leptospirosis are rodents and other small mammals. Studies of leptospirosis in bats and the extent to which they contribute to its transmission to humans and domestic animals in Tanzania are lacking. The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence of leptospirosis and local Leptospira serovars in bat colonies found around human settlements in Morogoro, Tanzania. In this study, mist nets were used to capture bats at Sokoine University of Agriculture main campus, whereas bats roosting on trees at Nunge A, Nunge B and Mwere primary school were captured manually. Leptospirosis was determined using the gold standard microscopic agglutination test for determination of Leptospira antibodies. Six live Leptospira serovars including local Leptospira serovar Sokoine, Kenya and Lora reported in rodents and domestic animals in Tanzania, and reference serovars Hebdomadis, Canicola and Pomona were used in the study. Leptospirosis prevalence was high in bats (19.4%) and higher within colonies (27.3%). Leptospira serovar Sokoine was more prevalent (19.4%) compared to serovars Kenya (2.8%) and Lora (2.8%). Serovars Pomona, Canicola and Hebdomadis were not detected in bats. In conclusion, bats are potential reservoir and transmitter of Leptospira serovar Sokoine, hence should be prevented to access houses and roosting in human settlements to avoid public health risks. Routine diagnosis of human leptospirosis is needed in Tanzania as evidence show a high prevalence of Leptospira in reservoir hosts interacting with humans.