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Molecular Survey of Rickettsia spp., Anaplasma spp., Ehrlichia spp., Bartonella spp., and Borrelia spp. in Fleas and Lice in Ethiopia

Pérez-Tanoira, Ramón, Ramos-Rincón, José M., Martín-Martín, Inés, Prieto-Pérez, Laura, Tefasmariam, Abraham, Tiziano, Gebre, Anda, Pedro, González-Martín-Niño, Rosa M., Rodríguez-Vargas, Manuela, Górgolas, Miguel, Jado, Isabel
Vector borne and zoonotic diseases 2020 v.20 no.1 pp. 10-14
Anaplasma platys, Bartonella clarridgeiae, Bartonella quintana, Borrelia recurrentis, Coxiella, Ctenocephalides canis, Ctenocephalides felis, DNA, Ehrlichia muris, Francisella, Pediculus humanus capitis, Pulex irritans, Rickettsia felis, bacteria, disease transmission, fever, humans, lice, pathogens, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, rural areas, surveys, Ethiopia
Bacterial arthropod-borne pathogens can often cause fever in Africa, but rural laboratories in these settings are usually too basic to provide a precise picture of their epidemiological impact. Our aim was to determine the prevalence of bacterial pathogens in fleas and lice in a rural area of southeast Ethiopia. Between July and November 2013, we extracted DNA from 91 fleas (Ctenocephalides felis [n = 50; 54.9%], Pulex irritans [n = 37; 40.1%], and C. canis [n = 4; 4.4%] and 30 lice (Pediculus humanus capitis [n = 16; 53.3%] and Pediculus humanus humanus [n = 14; 46.7%]), using two quantitative PCR (qPCR) analyses to look for bacteria from the genera: Anaplasma, Bartonella, Borrelia, Coxiella, Ehrlichia, Francisella, and Rickettsia. Of the 91 fleas analyzed, pathogens were present in 79 (86.8%), including Rickettsia felis (n = 41; 45%), Anaplasma platys (n = 40; 44.0%), Rickettsia monacensis (n = 2; 2.2%), Ehrlichia muris-like agent (n = 1; 1.1%), and Bartonella clarridgeiae (n = 1; 1.1%). P. irritans was the flea species most frequently infected with A. platys (67.7%), followed by C. felis (30.7%) (p < 0.001). Of the 30 lice identified, pathogens were present in 7 (23.3%): Bartonella quintana (n = 4; 16.7%), E. muris (n = 2, 6.7%), and Borrelia recurrentis (n = 1, 3.3%). Thus, in this rural area of Africa, fleas and lice can transmit parasitic pathogens to humans, causing febrile symptoms.