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J Med Entomol. 1996 May;33(3):490-5.

Acquisition of the cat scratch disease agent Bartonella henselae by cat fleas (Siphonaptera:Pulicidae).

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Maryland Medical School, Baltimore 21201, USA.


We assayed the ability of cat fleas to become infected with Bartonella henselae, using an artificial feeding device. Fleas fed a concentration of 1 x 10(5) cfu/ml in blood were examined using immunofluorescent antibody assay and polymerase chain reaction. Bacteria were present in the gut at 3 h, and persisted up to 9 d after infection. Qualitatively, the density of B. henselae was greater in the flea gut at 9 d, indicating that replication was occurring in the gut. B. henselae also was detected in the feces of infected fleas 9 d after infection, and produced viable colonies upon inoculation onto heart infusion agar/rabbit blood plates. Our results indicate that fleas can maintain infection with B. henselae, and may play a role in the transmission of this bacterium from infected cats to humans.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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