Introduction: Leptospirosis is a re-emerging zoonotic, occupational disease especially in tropical countries. Oil palm plantation workers are likely to be exposed to the leptospiral infection due to their manual work practices with frequent environment contact. Objective: The aim of this study was to determine the seroprevalence of leptospirosis and to identify the work practices risk factors for leptospirosis infection among oil palm plantation workers in Malaysia. Methods: This cross-sectional study involved 350 oil palm plantation workers in southern Malaysia using an interviewer-guided questionnaire. In addition, blood samples were taken for serological testing using a microscopic agglutination test conducted at the Institute of Medical Research; the cut-off titre for seropositive was ≥1:100. Results: The overall seroprevalence of leptospiral antibodies was 28.6%. The significant work practices risk factors found to be associated with seropositive leptospirosis were ‘did not wear rubber glove PPE’ (AOR: 5.25; 95% CI: 2.88, 9.56; p<0.001), ‘working with the presence of hand wound’ (AOR: 3.13; 95% CI: 1.83, 5.36; p<0.001), and ‘did not wash hands with soap after work before eating or drinking’ (AOR: 3.97; 95% CI: 2.25, 7.02; p <0.001). Conclusion: The high seroprevalence of leptospirosis shows that this group of workers are at high risk of Leptospira infection. The notable associated work practice factors provide a clear indication that awareness towards the risk of this disease is important and the infection can probably be prevented by stressing these modifiable factors through intervention programmes.
Mohd Ridzuan J, Aziah BD, Zahiruddin WM