Spatial epidemiology of suspected clinical leptospirosis in Sri Lanka

C. Robertson, T. A. Nelson, C. Stephen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Leptospirosis is one of the most widespread zoonoses in the world. A large outbreak of suspected human leptospirosis began in Sri Lanka during 2008. This study investigated spatial variables associated with suspected leptospirosis risk during endemic and outbreak periods. Data were obtained for monthly numbers of reported cases of suspected clinical leptospirosis for 2005-2009 for all of Sri Lanka. Space-time scan statistics were combined with regression modelling to test associations during endemic and outbreak periods. The cross-correlation function was used to test association between rainfall and leptospirosis at four locations. During the endemic period (2005-2007), leptospirosis risk was positively associated with shorter average distance to rivers and with higher percentage of agriculture made up of farms <0•20 hectares. Temporal correlation analysis of suspected leptospirosis cases and rainfall revealed a 2-month lag in rainfall-case association during the baseline period. Outbreak locations in 2008 were characterized by shorter distance to rivers and higher population density. The analysis suggests the possibility of household transmission in densely populated semi-urban villages as a defining characteristic of the outbreak. The role of rainfall in the outbreak remains to be investigated, although analysis here suggests a more complex relationship than simple correlation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)741-743
Number of pages3
JournalEpidemiology and Infection
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Analysis of data
  • epidemiology
  • leptospirosis
  • spatial modelling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Infectious Diseases


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