Comparison of flea (Siphonaptera) burdens on the endangered San Joaquin Kit Fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica (Carnivora, Canidae)) inhabiting urban and Nonurban environments in Central Valley, California

Ashley Jane Riner, Jaime L. Rudd, Deana L. Clifford, Brian L. Cypher, Janet E Foley, Patrick Foley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


The San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica Merriam (Carnivora, Canidae)) is an endangered small carnivore endemic to the San Joaquin Valley of California. Commercial and agricultural land expansion has contributed to the species' decline and invasion of more cosmopolitan species, providing means for potential ecological shifts in disease vector and host species. Fleas are common ectoparasites that can serve as important indicators of crossspecies interactions and disease risk. We compared flea load and species composition on kit foxes inhabiting urban and nonurban habitats to determine how urbanization affects flea diversity and potential disease spillover from co-occurring species. We identified Echidnophaga gallinacea (Westwood) (Siphonaptera, Pulicidae) and Pulex spp. (L.) in both urban and nonurban populations, and Ctenocephalides felis (Bouche) (Siphonaptera, Pulicidae) only in the urban population. Flea load scores differed significantly across capture sites and with respect to concomitant sarcoptic mange infestation in the urban population, with milder flea infestations more typical of healthy foxes. All observed flea species are known vectors for pathogens that have been detected in mesocarnivores. Further examination of kit fox fleas and their associated pathogens will help to direct conservation and disease preventive measures for both wildlife and humans in the region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)995-1001
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Medical Entomology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018



  • Disease spillover
  • Flea
  • San Joaquin kit fox
  • Urban and nonurban habitats

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • veterinary(all)
  • Insect Science
  • Infectious Diseases

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