The banded mongoose, which lives in close contact with humans in northern Botswana, has been identified as a carrier of the pathogen that causes leptospirosis, the most widespread zoonotic disease in the world (Jobbins SE et al. Zoonoses Public Health. doi:10.1111/zph.12052 [published online May 14, 2013]).
"The problem in Botswana and much of Africa is that leptospirosis may remain unidentified in animal populations but contribute to human disease, possibly misdiagnosed as other diseases such as malaria," said one of the study’s authors, Kathleen Alexander, MS, DVM, PhD, of Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg, in a statement. This report is the first published confirmation of leptospirosis in wildlife in this area.