High Prevalence of Rickettsia spp. in Dog Fleas (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae) in Rural Uganda.

Abstract

Fleas are known vectors of zoonotic agents. Thirty-five fleas, including 28 Ctenocephalides felis (Bouché), four Pulex irritans (L.), and three Echidnophaga gallinacea (Westwood) from 19 rural dogs from southwestern Uganda were analyzed for the presence of Rickettsia spp. (ompB, gltA, and 17 kDa fragment genes) and Bartonella spp. (rpoB and ITS genes) by PCR. Rickettsial DNA was detected in 27 out of 28 of Ct. felis and in two out of four P. irritans. None of the E. gallinacea specimens harbored Rickettsia DNA. Rickettsia felis was confirmed in 12 Ct. felis and in the two P. irritans specimens with positive PCR-results. In addition, the presence of Candidatus Rickettsia asemboensis was evidenced in 15 Ct. felis. Bartonella spp. was not amplified in any sample. Our survey indicates that R. felis, the agent of the flea-borne spotted fever, is present in the study area. Besides, this is the first description of Ca. R. asemboensis in Uganda.

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