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Widespread but neglected disease a health threat in Africa, Virginia Tech researchers say
Date:5/14/2013

in the journal Zoonoses and Public Health. The study, "Leptospira interrogans at the Human-Wildlife Interface in Northern Botswana: A Newly Identified Public Health Threat," was written by postdoctoral associates Sarah Jobbins and Claire Sanderson, and Alexander, who is affiliated with Virginia Tech's Fralin Life Science Institute. Jobbins is lead author and Alexander is corresponding author.

"Given the global importance of this disease, I was convinced that we were going to find Leptospira interrogans in some species in the ecosystem," said Alexander. "The pathogen had not been reported previously in the country with the exception of one cow in Southern Botswana over a quarter of a century ago.

"We looked at public health records dating back to 1974 and there were no records of any human cases," she continued. "The doctors who I talked with at the hospital said they were not expecting to see the disease in patients as they were not aware that the pathogen occurred in the country."

"This pathogen has a wide host range and can infect many animals, both wild and domestic, including dogs," said Jobbins. "Banded mongoose are not likely the only species infected in the ecosystem, but they serve as an important sentinel allowing us to identify health risks to humans."

Alexander, a veterinarian and researcher with the Center for African Resources: Animals, Communities and Land Use (CARACAL), has been conducting a long-term study of human, wildlife, and environmental health in the Chobe District of Northern Botswana, an area that includes the Chobe National Park, forest reserves, and surrounding villages.

"Our research program is directed at understanding how people, animals, and the envi
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Contact: Lynn Davis
davisl@vt.edu
540-231-6157
Virginia Tech
Source:Eurekalert

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