Rodent borne Leptospira in Niamey

PLOS Neglected tropical Diseases
© 2015 Dobigny et al.

Urban Market Gardening and Rodent-Borne Pathogenic Leptospira in Arid Zones: A Case Study in Niamey, Niger

Gauthier Dobigny1*, Madougou Garba2, Caroline Tatard3, Anne Loiseau3, Max Galan3, Ibrahima Kadaouré4, Jean-Pierre Rossi3, Mathieu Picardeau5, Eric Bertherat6

1Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, Centre de Biologie pour la Gestion des Populations (UMR IRD-INRA-CIRAD-SupAgro Montpellier), Campus International de Baillarguet CS30016, Montferrier-sur-Lez, France
2Direction Générale de la Protection des Végétaux, Ministère de l’Agriculture, Niamey, Niger
3Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, CBGP, Campus International de Baillarguet CS30016, Montferrier-sur-Lez, France
4Centre Régional Agrhymet, USAid/Fews-Net, Niamey, Niger
5InstitutPasteur, Unité de Biologie des Spirochètes, Centre National de Référence et Centre Collaborateur de l’OMS de la Leptospirose, Paris, France
6World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland

Abstract. Leptospirosis essentially affects human following contact with rodent urine-contaminated water. As such, it was mainly found associated with rice culture, recreational activities and flooding. This is also the reason why it has mainly been investigated in temperate as well as warm and humid regions, while arid zones have been only very occasionally monitored for this disease. In particular, data for West African countries are extremely scarce. Here, we took advantage of an extensive survey of urban rodents in Niamey, Niger, in order to look for rodent-borne pathogenic Leptospira species presence and distribution across the city. To do so, we used high throughput bacterial 16S-based metabarcoding, lipL32 gene-targeting RT-PCR, rrs gene sequencing and VNTR typing as well as GIS-based multivariate spatial analysis. Our results show that leptospires seem absent from the core city where usual Leptospira reservoir rodent species (namely R. rattus and M. natalensis) are yet abundant. On the contrary, L. kirschneri was detected in Arvicanthis niloticus and Cricetomys gambianus, two rodent species that are restricted to irrigated cultures within the city. Moreover, the VNTR profiles showed that rodent-borne leptospires in Niamey belong to previously undescribed serovars. Altogether, our study points towards the importance of market gardening in maintain and circulation of leptospirosis within Sahelian cities. In Africa, irrigated urban agriculture constitutes a pivotal source of food supply, especially in the context of the ongoing extensive urbanization of the continent. With this in mind, we speculate that leptospirosis may represent a zoonotic disease of concern also in arid regions that would deserve to be more rigorously surveyed, especially in urban agricultural settings.

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