A widespread zoonotic disease, leptospirosis is transmitted naturally from domestic and wild animals to humans. The contagious disease, which is caused by Leptospira bacteria, is spread through contact with food, water or soil contaminated with urine from infected animals. It can affect all farm animals, rodents and wildlife.
Several years ago, retired microbiologist Richard Zuerner, veterinary medical officer David Alt and their colleagues at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) National Animal Disease Center (NADC) in Ames, IA, tested a version of this vaccine and discovered that it induced some protection against experimental infection with Leptospira borgpetersenii serovar Hardjo, the main cause of bovine leptospirosis.
ARS is USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency, and this research supports USDA priority of promoting international food security.