The association between natural drinking water sources and the emergence of zoonotic leptospirosis among grazing beef cattle herds during a human outbreak

Lior Zamir, Miri Baum, Svetlana Bardenstein, Shlomo E. Blum, Jacob Moran-Gilad, Michal Perry Markovich, Roni King, Roi Lapid, Fares Hamad, Boris Even-Tov, Ehud Elnekave*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Leptospirosis is a zoonotic bacterial disease associated with water abundance in tropical and temperate climate zones. Bacterial spread may also occur in dry and warm weather conditions when humans and animals are forced to share depleted water sources. In such settings, farm animals such as beef cattle, which may be present in large numbers in natural water sources, can play a major role in disease spread. However, the risk factors for their infection and the potential control measures to prevent the disease spread have not been adequately studied. In the face of an emerging human leptospirosis outbreak in the dry and warm Israeli 2018 summer, we tested seropositivity to Leptospira serovar Pomona in grazing beef cattle and wild boars located in proximity to the contaminated streams. Additionally, we used the natural setting of the outbreak to identify risk factors for seropositivity in beef cattle. We found high seropositivity to serovar Pomona in grazing beef cattle (233/845), and in wild boars (7/13). Seropositivity was significantly associated with beef cattle drinking from natural water sources compared to beef cattle drinking from water troughs with fresh water supply (Multivariable logistic regression; odds ratio = 18.6, 95% confidence interval = 3–116, p-value<0.01). One Health approach is necessary for mitigating zoonotic Leptospira infections, in which interactions between humans, animals, and the environment play a major role. As the global warming crisis results in severe climate changes, dry and warm weather conditions may become more common worldwide. Under such conditions, reducing inter-species interactions in contaminated natural water sources is essential for protecting public health. Our study demonstrates the role of natural water as a source for beef cattle infection and disease spread. Furthermore, we suggest using water troughs with freshwater supply for preventing future outbreaks in animals and humans in such settings.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number100372
JournalOne Health
StatePublished - Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

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  • Leptospira interrogans serovar Pomona
  • One health
  • Outbreak
  • Public health
  • Seroprevalence


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