Date of Award

Summer 6-28-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Dr. Al Mead

Second Advisor

Dr. Dave Bachoon


Leptospirosis is a common widespread zoonotic disease found throughout the Caribbean. The infection is produced by a pathogenic Leptospira species found in tropical and subtropical regions. The severity of the disease ranges from a mild asymptomatic infection to death. Leptospirosis is a neglected tropical disease due to the lack of public awareness and health approaches. Therefore, misdiagnosis is common because the symptoms are similar to that of other tropical endemic diseases. The aim of the study was to determine the presence of pathogenic Leptospira in water samples collected from Puerto Rico and Trinidad. Sixty-four environmental water samples were collected throughout the island of Puerto Rico in 2014 during the wet and dry season, and 58 environmental water samples were collected on the island of Trinidad during the wet season 2017. Using a Taqman-based real time polymerase chain reaction (QPCR) that targeted the lipl32 gene, we were able to detect the presence of pathogenic Leptospira in several water samples. Pathogenic Leptospira were detected in 9% of the Puerto Rico samples. These included Río Camuy, Río Espíritu Santo, Río Guayanilla, Quebrada Majagual, Río Fajardo and Río Loíza, which are located in rivers near coastal regions of the island. In Trinidad, pathogenic Leptospira were detected in 12% of the sampled sites. These included Maracas River, Las Cuevas Site One, La Fillette, Yara River, Nariva River Mouth/Manzanilla, Guayaguayare River, Mosquito Creek River Mouth/ Godineau Site One and Mosquito Creek Site Two. All of the previously mentioned Trinidad sampled sites are located in rural regions of the island that includes both freshwater and marine samples. The presence of Leptospira in the Caribbean region represents a serious public health risk to the region.