A systematic review of human and animal leptospirosis in the Pacific Islands reveals pathogen and reservoir diversity

Guernier, Vanina, Goarant, Cyrille, Benschop, Jackie, and Lau, Colleen L. (2018) A systematic review of human and animal leptospirosis in the Pacific Islands reveals pathogen and reservoir diversity. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 12 (5). e0006503.

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The Pacific Islands have environmental conditions highly favourable for transmission of leptospirosis, a neglected zoonosis with highest incidence in the tropics, and Oceania in particular. Recent reports confirm the emergence and outbreaks of leptospirosis in the Pacific Islands, but the epidemiology and drivers of transmission of human and animal leptospirosis are poorly documented, especially in the more isolated and less developed islands.

Methodology/Principal findings

We conducted a systematic review of human and animal leptospirosis within 25 Pacific Islands (Pls) in Polynesia, Melanesia, Micronesia, as well as Easter Island and Hawaii. We performed a literature search using four international databases for articles published between January 1947 and June 2017. We further included grey literature available on the internet. We identified 148 studies describing leptospirosis epidemiology, but the number of studies varied significantly between Pls. No data were available from four Pls. Human leptospirosis has been reported from 13 Pls, with 63% of all studies conducted in Hawaii, French Polynesia and New Caledonia. Animal leptospirosis has been investigated in 19 Pls and from 14 host species, mainly pigs (18% of studies), cattle (16%) and dogs (11%). Only 13 studies provided information on both human and animal leptospirosis from the same location. Serology results were highly diverse in the region, both in humans and animals.


Our study suggests that, as in other tropical regions, leptospirosis is widespread in the Pls while showing some epidemiological heterogeneity. Data are scarce or absent from many Pls. Rodents, cattle, pigs and dogs are all likely to be important carriers, but the relative importance of each animal species in human infection needs to be clarified. Epidemiological surveys with appropriate sampling design, pathogen typing and data analysis are needed to improve our understanding of transmission patterns and to develop effective intervention strategies.

Item ID: 54747
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1935-2735
Copyright Information: © 2018 Guernier et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Funders: National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)
Projects and Grants: NHMRC 1109035
Date Deposited: 25 Jul 2018 07:50
FoR Codes: 45 INDIGENOUS STUDIES > 4516 Pacific Peoples health and wellbeing > 451605 Pacific Peoples epidemiology @ 40%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3107 Microbiology > 310702 Infectious agents @ 30%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3107 Microbiology > 310701 Bacteriology @ 30%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9201 Clinical Health (Organs, Diseases and Abnormal Conditions) > 920120 Zoonoses @ 50%
92 HEALTH > 9201 Clinical Health (Organs, Diseases and Abnormal Conditions) > 920109 Infectious Diseases @ 50%
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