Leptospirosis: Screening and Awareness Study among Dog Handlers in Malaysia

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Lead Researcher:

Dr. Lau Seng Fong, UPM  


Dr. Rosnah Ismail,UKM Dr. Taznim Begam binti Mohd Mohidin, UM Dr. Khor Kuan Hua, UPM Dr. Puteri Azaziah Megat Abdul Rani, UPM  

Project Summary

Leptospirosis is the most widespread zoonotic disease in the world. In Malaysia, studies on leptospira were mainly focused on livestock, rats, and human, but not companion animals. Although dogs are presumably related with a low prevalence of leptospirosis and often assumed protected with vaccination protocol implemented, but due to close contact with human, they can be the potential carrier of disease transmission.   Previous studies conducted in Malaysia showed that the seroprevalence of leptospirosis in dog population (sheltered dogs and working dogs) was between 3.1–7.0% and the common serovars found were bataviae, icterohemorrhagiae, canicola, javanica, and australis. Some of these serovars are not available in the vaccine. Hence, we propose to investigate the seroprevalence of leptospirosis in dog handlers whose are in close contact with dogs. The objective of this study is to determine of seroprevalence of leptospirosis in dog handlers that have close contact with dogs and to identify the risk factors related to occupational and non-occupational activities. During the conduction of the project, One Health interventional concept will be implemented to increase the knowledge and awareness of the dog handlers about leptospirosis. This activity was carried out among the dog handlers from dog shelters and canine units from different government agencies. In total, more than 300 participants were involved in this activity. Presentations were given to the participants in Bahasa Malaysia.  Pre- and post-questionnaires showed that there was an increase in the understanding about both Leptospirosis in human and animals. Some medical supplies were also provided to the involved parties as post activity intervention. However, the language barrier was found mainly in the shelters since most of the handlers in shelters came from either Myanmar, Indonesia, Nepal or other countries. Their understanding regarding the zoonotic diseases was extremely limited, due to their level of education. In addition to that, some managers of the shelters were not interested to know about the zoonotic disease and did not give full cooperation when the talk was delivered. Further education is urgently needed for this group of handlers and their management in the future as most of the handlers live in the shelter with poor hygiene. At the end of each presentation, blood samples were collected in both human and dogs and stored at -80oC until further analysis. Blood samples will be analysed by using microagglutination test (MAT), and the results will be informed to the involved shelters and government agencies within two months. Recommendations will be given accordingly based on the outcome. Further formulation of suitable modules for shelters and government agencies should be developed so that it can be used as a guideline in handling the animals.