Leptospira detection in cats in Spain by serology and molecular techniques

Andrea Murillo*, Rafaela Cuenca, Emmanuel Serrano, Goris Marga, Ahmed Ahmed, Salvador Cervantes, Cristina Caparrós, Verónica Vieitez, Andrea Ladina, Josep Pastor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Leptospirosis is the most neglected widespread zoonosis worldwide. In Spain, leptospirosis reports in people and animals have increased lately. Cats can become infected with Leptospira, as well as be chronic carriers. The aim of this study was to determine serological antibody prevalence against Leptospira sp., blood DNA, and shedding of DNA from pathogenic Leptospira species in the urine of cats in Spain. Microagglutination tests (MAT) and blood and urine TaqMan real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) were performed. Leptospira antibodies were detected in 10/244 cats; with 4.1% positive results (95% confidence interval (CI): 2.1–7.18%). Titers ranged from 1:20 to 1:320 (serovars Ballum; Bataviae; Bratislava; Cynopteri; Grippotyphosa Mandemakers; Grippotyphosa Moskva; Pomona; and Proechimys). The most common serovar was Cynopteri. Blood samples from 1/89 cats amplified for Leptospira DNA (1.12%; 95% CI: 0.05–5.41%). Urine samples from 4/232 cats amplified for Leptospira DNA (1.72%; 95% CI: 0.55–4.10%). In conclusion free-roaming cats in Spain can shed pathogenic Leptospira DNA in their urine and may be a source of human infection. Serovars not previously described in cats in Spain were detected; suggesting the presence of at least 4 different species of pathogenic leptospires in the country (L. borgpetersenii; L. interrogans; L. kirschneri; and L. noguchii).

Original languageAmerican English
Article number1600
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020


  • Antibodies
  • Free-roaming cat
  • Leptospirosis
  • PCR
  • Serovar
  • Shedding
  • Zoonoses


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