An underestimated danger for humans and animals in Uganda
Leptospirosis is an infectious disease caused by bacteria, occurring worldwide in different species including rodents, dogs, cattle and humans. Leptospirosis is a zoonosis, which means it is transmissible between human and animals.
Transmission through contaminated water
The bacteria is mainly transmitted via the urine of rodents into the environment. In humid environments, like puddles, the bacteria can survive for months. Humans or animals that get into contact with the contaminated water can become infected. Every year approx. 58.900 humans (Costa et al., 2015) die from Leptospirosis.
Studies about the current situation in Uganda
Our partner, CoVAB (College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity) at the Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, conducted a study about the prevalence of Leptospirosis in peri-urban areas in Uganda between July and December 2019. During the six-month period of data collection, approx. 500 dogs were tested for Leptospirosis. The overall goal was to find out how many dogs are actually suffering from Leptospirosis, how common the disease is occurring and what targeted measures would be needed in the future.
Our approach: applied research
It is our particular interest to directly combine lessons learnt with practice. As a result, the data collection within the study was accompanied by practical measures:
All examined dogs that showed signs of Leptospirosis, were brought into clinical institutions and received veterinary treatment. In case of timely treatment, the disease can mostly be cured.
Every animal tested negative received a vaccination that protects against the common serotypes of Leptospirosis. Overall, there are over 50 different serotypes that can significantly vary according to the location. Using the collected data, specific vaccines can be produced for the animals in that local area.
The clinical picture of Leptospirosis is often not clear, and a lot of cases are not detected in practice. Therefore 15 practising vets from different districts were trained to be aware of the disease in specific workshops. They learned to diagnose Leptospirosis with quick laboratory tests and how to professionally educate animal owners on preventive measures.