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Leptospirosis in the Asia Pacific region

Ann Florence B Victoriano1, Lee D Smythe2, Nina Gloriani-Barzaga1, Lolita L Cavinta1, Takeshi Kasai3, Khanchit Limpakarnjanarat4, Bee Lee Ong3, Gyanendra Gongal4, Julie Hall3, Caroline Anne Coulombe3, Yasutake Yanagihara5, Shin-ichi Yoshida5 and Ben Adler6*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medical Microbiology, University of the Philippines, College of Public Health, Manila, Philippines

2 WHO/FAO/OIE Collaborating Centre for Reference & Research on Leptospirosis, Queensland Health Forensic and Scientific Services, Brisbane, Australia

3 Western Pacific Regional Office, World Health Organization, Manila, Philippines

4 South East Regional Office, World Health Organization, India

5 Department of Bacteriology, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan

6 Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Structural and Functional Microbial Genomics, Department of Microbiology, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2009, 9:147  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-9-147

Published: 4 September 2009



Leptospirosis is a worldwide zoonotic infection that has been recognized for decades, but the problem of the disease has not been fully addressed, particularly in resource-poor, developing countries, where the major burden of the disease occurs. This paper presents an overview of the current situation of leptospirosis in the region. It describes the current trends in the epidemiology of leptospirosis, the existing surveillance systems, and presents the existing prevention and control programs in the Asia Pacific region.


Data on leptospirosis in each member country were sought from official national organizations, international public health organizations, online articles and the scientific literature. Papers were reviewed and relevant data were extracted.


Leptospirosis is highly prevalent in the Asia Pacific region. Infections in developed countries arise mainly from occupational exposure, travel to endemic areas, recreational activities, or importation of domestic and wild animals, whereas outbreaks in developing countries are most frequently related to normal daily activities, over-crowding, poor sanitation and climatic conditions.


In the Asia Pacific region, predominantly in developing countries, leptospirosis is largely a water-borne disease. Unless interventions to minimize exposure are aggressively implemented, the current global climate change will further aggravate the extent of the disease problem. Although trends indicate successful control of leptospirosis in some areas, there is no clear evidence that the disease has decreased in the last decade. The efficiency of surveillance systems and data collection varies significantly among the countries and areas within the region, leading to incomplete information in some instances. Thus, an accurate reflection of the true burden of the disease remains unknown.