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Citation Information

Type Journal Article - PLoS Negl Trop Dis
Title Estimating leptospirosis incidence using hospital-based surveillance and a population-based health care utilization survey in Tanzania
Author(s)
Volume 7
Issue 12
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2013
URL http://journals.plos.org/plosntds/article?id=10.1371/journal.pntd.0002589
Abstract
Background

The incidence of leptospirosis, a neglected zoonotic disease, is uncertain in Tanzania and much of sub-Saharan Africa, resulting in scarce data on which to prioritize resources for public health interventions and disease control. In this study, we estimate the incidence of leptospirosis in two districts in the Kilimanjaro Region of Tanzania.

Methodology/Principal Findings

We conducted a population-based household health care utilization survey in two districts in the Kilimanjaro Region of Tanzania and identified leptospirosis cases at two hospital-based fever sentinel surveillance sites in the Kilimanjaro Region. We used multipliers derived from the health care utilization survey and case numbers from hospital-based surveillance to calculate the incidence of leptospirosis. A total of 810 households were enrolled in the health care utilization survey and multipliers were derived based on responses to questions about health care seeking in the event of febrile illness. Of patients enrolled in fever surveillance over a 1 year period and residing in the 2 districts, 42 (7.14%) of 588 met the case definition for confirmed or probable leptospirosis. After applying multipliers to account for hospital selection, test sensitivity, and study enrollment, we estimated the overall incidence of leptospirosis ranges from 75–102 cases per 100,000 persons annually.

Conclusions/Significance

We calculated a high incidence of leptospirosis in two districts in the Kilimanjaro Region of Tanzania, where leptospirosis incidence was previously unknown. Multiplier methods, such as used in this study, may be a feasible method of improving availability of incidence estimates for neglected diseases, such as leptospirosis, in resource constrained settings.

Author Summary

Leptospirosis is a zoonotic infection that occurs worldwide and is caused by a spirochete, Leptospira spp. The incidence of leptospirosis is unknown in most of sub-Saharan Africa, including Tanzania. Incidence estimates are important in prioritizing resources for disease prevention and control. In this study, we calculated leptospirosis incidence in 2 districts in the Kilimanjaro Region of Tanzania using a multiplier method. We used responses from a population-based survey that asked where participants and their household members would seek health care in the event of fever along with the number of leptospirosis cases found at 2 hospitals under surveillance to calculate estimated incidence. We calculated a high incidence of leptospirosis in the study area that was previously unrecognized. This has important implications for prioritizing further research and consideration of public health control measures for leptospirosis in Tanzania.

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