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Leptospirosis in cattle in Lower Austria: A targeted approach to enhance veterinary diagnostic and prevent zoonotic occupational exposure.

Leptospirosis is a (re)emerging bacterial zoonosis in Europe. The disease affects humans and animals, inducing mild to very serious clinical symptoms. In Lower Austria, former outbreaks and increase in the number of human and animal cases suggest that the disease is of public health concerns. However, data on leptopsirosis in Lower Austria are sparse, and to date, the serological diagnosis relies on „foreign“ reference strains, whereas the World Health Organization highly recommends the use of locally isolated strains to increase the sensitivity of the test.The proposed project LeptOspirose bei Rindern in Niederösterreich (LORN) aims to isolate at least 10 local pathogenic Leptospira strains in Lower Austria (Niederösterreich), from infected cattle in the field and at abattoirs, in order to improve the sensitivity and accuracy of the serologic diagnostic test for humans and animals and provide a better understanding of the prevalence and molecular epidemiology of this zoonosis in Lower Austria.To achieve our objective, we will conduct a data-driven targeted sampling in the Lower Austrian cattle population, together with an intensive effort in the laboratory. The genome of the isolated Lower Austrian (“local”) strains will be further characterised. The LORN project will therefore give better insights into the role of cattle as reservoir of pathogenic Leptospira and therefore will enable to estimate the potential for human infection through occupational and recreational exposure (including touristic activities) in Lower Austria. LORN brings together the leading actors in the area Veterinary Public Health in Lower Austria: academics from the University of Veterinary Medicine and the Österreichische Agentur für Gesundheits- und Ernährungssicherheit, Institut für veterinärmedizinische Untersuchungen Mödling, veterinary practionners, and the abattoirs. By providing biological material to improve human and veterinary diagnostic of a zoonotic disease, we envision LORN to have a long-lasting impact on medicine and public health in Lower Austria. Moreover, LORN will contribute to improve animal health and welfare, therefore ensuring continued food security, and decrease the economic impact of leptospirosis in Lower Austria. By assessing the risk of infection for the most exposed workers (i.e. farmers, veterinarians, slaughterhouse workers) and estimating the risk of exposure during recreational and touristic activities, LORN will have significant positive effects on the economy and human health. Following the Open Science principles and making communication with stakeholders a priority, LORN will certainly show remarkable societal and academic impacts.
Leptospirose bei Rindern in Niederösterreich
Coordination in general
Desvars Amelie
FTI Call "Ernährung-Medizin-Gesundheit"
Type of Research
Applied research
Vetmed Research Units
Institute of Food Safety, Food Technology and Veterinary Public Health
Institute of Food Safety, Food Technology and Veterinary Public Health, Unit of Veterinary Public Health and Epidemiology
University Clinic for Ruminants
Projekt partner
Contact: Romana Steinparzer
Österreichische Agentur für Gesundheit und Ernährungssicherheit GmbH, Spargelfeldstrasse 191, 1220 Wien, Austria
Funded by
Amt der Niederösterreichischen Landesregierung, Landhausplatz 1, 3109 St. Pölten, Austria
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