Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 29090679
Euro Surveill. 2017 Oct;22(43)
Leptospirosis is an under-reported and emerging zoonotic disease which is potentially fatal in humans. Rodents are the main reservoirs for pathogenic Leptospira spp., but diagnosis in these animals is difficult, and their infection, which does not induce symptoms, usually goes unoticed. Although the exposures of most human cases of leptospirosis are poorly documented, we were able to identify six human cases of leptospirosis which were associated with direct contact with pet rodents (mice or rats) in Belgium and France between 2009 and 2016. All cases had severe disease and for all, the presence of Leptospira spp. DNA in the kidneys of their pet animals was confirmed, strongly suggesting that excretion of leptospires in urine was the way of transmission. Half of the cases shared the serogroup Icterohaemorrhagiae, which is usually associated with severe disease, with the pet rats which they were in contact with. With the popularity of rats and mice as pets, this study should contribute to raising awareness on asymptomatic pet rodents as a source of Leptospira infections.