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Molecular screening of Ctenocephalides felis fleas collected from stray cats in the Jerusalem District, Israel, for Bartonella spp., Rickettsia spp. and Coxiella burnetii

Kamani, Joshua, Baneth, Gad, Gutiérrez, Ricardo, Nachum-Biala, Yaarit, Salant, Harold, Mumcuoglu, Kosta Y., Harrus, Shimon
Veterinary Parasitology: Regional Studies and Reports 2015 v.1-2 pp. 59-64
Bartonella clarridgeiae, Bartonella henselae, Bartonella koehlerae, Coxiella burnetii, Ctenocephalides felis, DNA, Rickettsia felis, adults, animal pathogens, bacterial infections, cats, females, feral animals, hosts, juveniles, males, polymerase chain reaction, public health, residential areas, screening, sequence analysis, urban areas, Israel
Four hundred and sixty seven Ctenocephalides felis fleas removed from 185 feral cats living in residential areas of Jerusalem, Israel, were screened for bacterial infections of public health importance. The fleas were screened for bartonellae, rickettsiae and Coxiella burnetii by PCR and sequencing. Bartonella DNA was detected in 156 individual fleas collected from 91 of the 185 (49.2%) cats. DNA of Bartonella clarridgeiae, Bartonella henselae and Bartonella koehlerae was detected in 112/467 (24%), 29/467 (6.2%) and 15/467 (3.2%), respectively, indicating a significantly different distribution (P<0.00001) of these Bartonella spp. among the fleas. However, no differences were observed between female and male fleas in their Bartonella-infection status (P>0.05). Ninety one individual cats carried fleas infected with 1 to 3 Bartonella species. No differences were found between fleas collected from male and female, pregnant and non-pregnant or young, juvenile and adult cats. Interestingly, a significant association was observed between the clinical status of the cat hosts (apparently healthy versus sick) and the carriage of Bartonella-positive fleas. One of the 467 (0.2%) fleas was positive for Rickettsia felis DNA and no other Rickettsia spp. or C. burnetii DNA were detected. Our findings indicate a relatively high prevalence of Bartonella spp. known to be human pathogens, and low prevalence of R. felis in fleas from the Jerusalem district cats, highlighting the abundance and importance of bartonellae for public health in this urban region.