Serological Prevalence of Leptospiral Infection in Wildlife in Sarawak, Malaysia

  • Siva Thayaparan
  • Ian Robertson
  • Fairuz Amraan
  • Lela Su'ut
  • Mohd Tajuddin Abdullah
Keywords: Leptospirosis, wildlife, mammals, Sararawak, Borneo


Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease caused by pathogenic leptospiral bacteria, which are transmitted directly or
indirectly from animals to humans or animal to animal. The first phase of this proposed study was carried out to
determine the extent of exposure to leptospirosis in wild mammals surrounded by human settlements around
wildlife or tourism area (Wind Cave, Fairy Cave, Bako National Park and Matang Wildlife Center). This study
reports an incident of leptospirosis among primates (three captive and two free ranging), rats, bats, squirrels and
mongoose around Kuching, Sarawak area, which has been screened for Leptospirosis. Blood samples were
obtained to determine the presence of antibodies through the microscopic agglutination test (MAT) using
eighteen serovars of Leptospira commonly found in Malaysia as antigens. It was observed that four out of the
five monkeys (80%), rats (9/4) (44%), bats (20/5) (20.8%), squirrels 4/4 (100%) and mongoose (1) (100%)
reacted against one or more serovars of Leptospira. In this study antibody of five serovars of Leptospira
interrrogans Copenheni, Leptospira interrrogans Lai, Leptospira interrrogans Pomona, Leptospira interrrogans
Pyrogenes, Lepto 175* were detected. Serovars Copenhegeni, Lai, Pomona and Pyrogenes were considered
pathogenic for different mammals including human beings. No information about serovars lepto 175 and further
studies going on. This is providing information on the possible zoonotic importance of mammalian species in
maintaining this disease in Sarawak. The transmission of leptospires in rats reported several incidents and
between primates, bats, squirrels, mongoose and human is not reported elsewhere but this could create new
reservoir and transmission routes and may affect the tourism, conservation effort and public health.