Molecular and serological diagnosis of multiple bacterial zoonoses in febrile outpatients in Garissa County, north-eastern Kenya


Bacterial zoonoses are diseases caused by bacterial pathogens that can be naturally transmitted between humans and vertebrate animals. They are important causes of non-malarial fevers in Kenya, yet their epidemiology remains unclear. We investigated brucellosis, Q-fever and leptospirosis in the venous blood of 216 malaria-negative febrile patients recruited in two health centres (98 from Ijara and 118 from Sangailu health centres) in Garissa County in north-eastern Kenya. We determined exposure to the three zoonoses using serological (Rose Bengal test for Brucella spp., ELISA for C. burnetti and microscopic agglutination test for Leptospira spp.) and real-time PCR testing and identified risk factors for exposure. We also used non-targeted metagenomic sequencing on nine selected patients to assess the presence of other possible bacterial causes of non-malarial fevers. Considerable PCR positivity was found for Brucella (19.4%, 95% confidence intervals [CI] 14.2–25.5) and Leptospira spp. (1.7%, 95% CI 0.4–4.9), and high endpoint titres were observed against leptospiral serovar Grippotyphosa from the serological testing. Patients aged 5–17 years old had 4.02 (95% CI 1.18–13.70, p-value = 0.03) and 2.42 (95% CI 1.09–5.34, p-value = 0.03) times higher odds of infection with Brucella spp. and Coxiella burnetii than those of ages 35–80. Additionally, patients who sourced water from dams/springs, and other sources (protected wells, boreholes, bottled water, and water pans) had 2.39 (95% CI 1.22–4.68, p-value = 0.01) and 2.24 (1.15–4.35, p-value = 0.02) times higher odds of exposure to C. burnetii than those who used unprotected wells. Streptococcus and Moraxella spp. were determined using metagenomic sequencing. Brucellosis, leptospirosis, Streptococcus and Moraxella infections are potentially important causes of non-malarial fevers in Garissa. This knowledge can guide routine diagnosis, thus helping lower the disease burden and ensure better health outcomes, especially in younger populations.


Wainaina, M., Lindahl, J.F., Mayer-Scholl, A., Ufermann, C.-M., Domelevo Entfellner, J.-B., Roesler, U., Roesel, K., Grace, D., Bett, B. and Al Dahouk, S. 2024. Molecular and serological diagnosis of multiple bacterial zoonoses in febrile outpatients in Garissa County, north-eastern Kenya. Scientific Reports 14: 12263.


  • Wainaina, Martin
  • Lindahl, Johanna F.
  • Mayer-Scholl, A.
  • Ufermann, C.-M.
  • Domelevo Entfellner, Jean-Baka
  • Roesler, U.
  • Roesel, Kristina
  • Grace, Delia
  • Bett, Bernard K.
  • Al Dahouk, S.