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Vet Parasitol. 2014 Jan 31;199(3-4):225-9. doi: 10.1016/j.vetpar.2013.10.017. Epub 2013 Oct 30.

Flea species infesting dogs in Florida and Bartonella spp. prevalence rates.

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Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Fort Collins, CO, United States. Electronic address:
Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, United States.
Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Fort Collins, CO, United States.
North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, United States.


Several Bartonella spp. associated with fleas can induce a variety of clinical syndromes in both dogs and humans. However, few studies have investigated the prevalence of Bartonella in the blood of dogs and their fleas. The objectives of this study were to determine the genera of fleas infesting shelter dogs in Florida, the prevalence of Bartonella spp. within the fleas, and the prevalence of Bartonella spp. within the blood of healthy dogs from which the fleas were collected. Fleas, serum, and EDTA-anti-coagulated whole blood were collected from 80 healthy dogs, and total DNA was extracted for PCR amplification of Bartonella spp. The genera of fleas infesting 43 of the dogs were determined phenotypically. PCR amplicons from blood and flea pools were sequenced to confirm the Bartonella species. Amplicons for which sequencing revealed homology to Bartonella vinsonii subsp. berkhoffii (Bvb) underwent specific genotyping by targeting the 16S-23S intergenic spacer region. A total of 220 fleas were collected from 80 dogs and pooled by genus (43 dogs) and flea species. Bartonella spp. DNA was amplified from 14 of 80 dog blood samples (17.5%) and from 9 of 80 pooled fleas (11.3%). B. vinsonii subsp. berkhoffii DNA was amplified from nine dogs and five of the flea pools. Bartonella rochalimae (Br) DNA was amplified from six dogs and two flea pools. One of 14 dogs was co-infected with Bvb and Br. The dog was infested with Pulex spp. fleas containing Br DNA and a single Ctenocephalides felis flea. Of the Bvb bacteremic dogs, five and four were infected with genotypes II and I, respectively. Of the Bvb PCR positive flea pools, three were Bvb genotype II and two were Bvb genotype I. Amplification of Bvb DNA from Pulex spp. collected from domestic dogs, suggests that Pulex fleas may be a vector for dogs and a source for zoonotic transfer of this pathogen from dogs to people. The findings of this study provide evidence to support the hypothesis that flea-infested dogs may be a reservoir host for Bvb and Br and that ectoparasite control is an important component of shelter intake protocols.


Bartonella clarridgeiae; Bartonella henselae; Bartonella kholerae; Bartonella rochalimae; Bartonella vinsonii subsp. berkhoffii; Bc; Bh; Bk; Br; Bvb; Ctenocephalides felis; EDTA; Pulex spp.; ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid

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