Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Residents of urban slums suffer from a high burden of zoonotic diseases due to individual, socioeconomic, and environmental factors. We conducted a cross-sectional sero-survey in four urban slums in Salvador, Brazil, to characterize how poverty and sanitation contribute to the transmission of rat-borne leptospirosis. Sero-prevalence in the 1,318 participants ranged between 10.0 and 13.3%. We found that contact with environmental sources of contamination, rather than presence of rat reservoirs, is what leads to higher risk for residents living in areas with inadequate sanitation. Further, poorer residents may be exposed away from the household, and ongoing governmental interventions were not associated with lower transmission risk. Residents at higher risk were aware of their vulnerability, and their efforts improved the physical environment near their household, but did not reduce their infection chances. This study highlights the importance of understanding the socioeconomic and environmental determinants of risk, which ought to guide intervention efforts.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS neglected tropical diseases

Publication Date





Institute of Collective Health, Federal University of Bahia, Salvador, Brazil.


Humans, Leptospirosis, Cross-Sectional Studies, Sanitation, Social Class, Poverty, Poverty Areas, Adult, Middle Aged, Brazil, Female, Male