Molecular evidence for the presence of Leptospira borgpetersenii in synanthropic rodents in the Nautla region, Veracruz, Mexico

Rigoberto Gutiérrez-Molina, Anabel Cruz-Romero, Dora Romero-Salas, Gerardo Ballados-González, José Jiménez-Hernández, Nelly Ibarra-Priego, Ricardo Serna-Lagunes, Sokani Sánchez-Montes


The genus Leptospira encompasses ten species of spirochetes capable of infecting mammals, particularly rodents. In Mexico, studies focused on the detection of Leptospira sp. in rodents are scarce, all of them restricted to three states of the Gulf of Mexico. For this reason, this work aimed to identify the diversity of Leptospira species associated with synanthropic rodents in Veracruz, a state where leptospirosis is endemic.  Rodents were sampled with Sherman traps placed in 10 Production Units across the Nautla region. Animals were euthanized and their kidneys removed. Subsequently, a 474-bp segment of the outer membrane protein LipL32, present in all pathogenic species, was amplified and sequenced. Sequences were compared vs. reference using the BLAST algorithm: a phylogenetic reconstruction was carried out using the Maximum Likelihood method.  In addition, the prevalence of infection in each Production Unit was estimated.  Twenty eight rodents of a single species (Mus musculus) were caught. Leptospira DNA was detected in 17 samples (62.9 %, CI95 % 42.3 to 80.6) from seven localities in the Nautla region. The sequences recovered exhibited 99-100% identity to each other and 99 % identity with Leptospira borgspetersenii sequences deposited in GenBank.  This study confirms the presence of L. borgspetersenii in rodents, particularly in M. musculus, in Mexico.  This study increases the inventory of pathogenic leptospires for the state of Veracruz to three species. 


México; pathogens; small mammals; spirochetes.

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