Blanding's turtles (Emydoidea blandingii) as a reservoir for Leptospira spp

Rockwell, Kelly E.; Thompson, Dan; Maddox, Carol; Mitchell, Mark A.
June 2019
PLoS ONE;6/6/2019, Vol. 14 Issue 6, p1
Academic Journal
Leptospira spp. are re-emerging zoonotic pathogens. Previous research has found that Blanding's turtles (Emydoidea blandingii) experimentally infected with Leptospira interrogans shed leptospires in their urine, suggesting that they could play a role in transmitting pathogen within an aquatic ecosystem. This study investigated whether a population of wild Blanding's turtles known to be exposed to Leptospira spp. actively shed the pathogen under natural conditions. Blood samples were collected for serologic testing and to assess the health of the turtles. Free catch urine was collected for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing. All turtles were seropositive for Leptospira spp. and 73.5% (25/34) of the urine samples were PCR positive. All animals appeared clinically healthy and showed no apparent signs of disease. This study confirms that wild Blanding's turtles can actively shed Leptospira spp. in their urine and suggests that they may play a role in the epidemiology of this disease in habitats in which they reside.


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