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Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2006 Mar;74(3):444-8.

Polygenic detection of Rickettsia felis in cat fleas (Ctenocephalides felis) from Israel.

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  • 1School of Veterinary Medicine, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot, Israel.


The presence of Rickettsia felis, an emerging bacterial pathogen, was investigated in 79 cat flea (Cteno-cephalides felis) pools from Israel (5 to 20 fleas each) by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and sequencing of 5 different genes. Amplified targets included both metabolic (gltA and fusA) and surface antigen (ompA, ompB, and the 17-kDa antigen) genes. R. felis DNA was detected in 7.6% of the flea pools. Two genotypes similar in their housekeeping gene sequences but markedly different in their surface antigenic genetic milieus were characterized. This is the first detection of this flea-transmitted rickettsia within its vector in Israel and the Middle East. Although no clinical case has been reported in human beings in Israel to date, these findings suggest that this infection is prevalent in Israel.

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