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Curr Trop Med Rep. 2016;3:27-39. Epub 2016 Apr 23.

Rickettsia felis, an Emerging Flea-Borne Rickettsiosis.

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Department of Pathobiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Louisiana State University, Skip Bertman Drive, SVM-3213, Baton Rouge, LA 70803 USA.


Rickettsia felis is an emerging insect-borne rickettsial pathogen and the causative agent of flea-borne spotted fever. First described as a human pathogen from the USA in 1991, R. felis is now identified throughout the world and considered a common cause of fever in Africa. The cosmopolitan distribution of this pathogen is credited to the equally widespread occurrence of cat fleas (Ctenocephalides felis), the primary vector and reservoir of R. felis. Although R. felis is a relatively new member of the pathogenic Rickettsia, limited knowledge of basic R. felis biology continues to hinder research progression of this unique bacterium. This is a comprehensive review examining what is known and unknown relative to R. felis transmission biology, epidemiology of the disease, and genetics, with an insight into areas of needed investigation.


Epidemiology; Flea-borne spotted fever; Genetic diversity; Rickettsia felis; Transmission biology

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