Date of Award

January 2022

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Elsio Wunder


Leptospirosis is a disease caused by pathogenic species of spirochetes of the genus Leptospira. The bacteria are widespread globally and can survive in the environment for weeks after being excreted through the urine of infected animals. Humans get infected through contact with contaminated water or soil. Leptospirosis is a life-threatening disease with a wide range of symptoms. It is believed that after infection, individuals acquire natural immunity against the same infecting serovar. However, there are over 300 serovars of Leptospira that can cause disease in humans and animals, and reinfections are common. Nevertheless, recent studies have shown that reinfection caused by the same serovar is frequent in highly endemic areas, indicating that antibodies in different individuals may be diverse. Our research has been focusing on trying to better understand the natural immunity against Leptospira. We conducted experiments to verify if antibodies against specific leptospiral proteins could induce immunity against secondary infection. Using mutants and recombinant proteins of the identified targets, we evaluated the role of those protein candidates on the pathogenesis of the bacteria and on the immunity of individuals living in an endemic area for leptospirosis. We identified proteins that have a role as a virulence factor and confirmed the overall role of specific targets as an immunogenic marker for protection. Our preliminary results indicate that those targets can be explored as potential diagnostic and/or prevention candidates against this important neglected disease.


This is an Open Access Thesis.

Open Access

This Article is Open Access