Identification of Rickettsia felis in fleas but not ticks on stray cats and dogs and the evidence of Rickettsia rhipicephali only in adult stage of Rhipicephalus sanguineus and Rhipicephalus haemaphysaloides

Yuan Man Hsu, Chao Chen Lin, Bruno B Chomel, Kun Hsien Tsai, Wen Jer Wu, Chin Gi Huang, Chao Chin Chang

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12 Scopus citations


Rickettsia spp. are zoonotic pathogens and mainly transmitted by various arthropod vectors, such as fleas, ticks, and lice. Previous epidemiological studies indicated that ectoparasites infested on dogs or cats may be infected by Rickettsia spp., and transmit them to human beings accidentally. In this study, the prevalence of Rickettsia infection was evaluated using fleas and ticks from stray dogs and cats in Taiwan. A total of 158 pools made by 451 cat fleas (Ctenocephalides felis) from 37 dogs and 4 cats were used for analysis. Besides, 386 Rhipicephalus ticks collected from the other 62 stray dogs were included in this study. Nymphal and adult ticks were individually analyzed but larvae were separated into 21 pools for molecular detection. Partial sequencing analysis of the gltA gene was applied for Rickettsia identification. The results showed that 44.3% (70/158) of the cat flea pools were harboring Rickettsia DNA. Although 6.9% (13/187) of adult ticks were infected with Rickettsia, neither larval pools nor nymphal ticks were found to contain Rickettsia DNA. According to the results of sequencing analyses, all Rickettsia PCR-positive cat flea pools were infected with R. felis, and all Rickettsia PCR-positive adult ticks were infected with R. rhipicephali. The results of this study demonstrated that C. felis but not Rhipicephlus sanguineus (the brown dog tick) and Rh. haemaphysaloides collected from stray animals in Taiwan could be infected the zoonotic pathogen R. felis. Moreover, R. rhipicephali was only identified in adult stage of Rhipicephalus sanguineus and Rh. haemaphysaloides.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)513-518
Number of pages6
JournalComparative Immunology, Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2011



  • Ctenocephalides felis
  • Rhipicephalus haemaphysaloides
  • Rhipicephalus sanguineus
  • Rickettsia felis
  • Rickettsia rhipicephali

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Microbiology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • veterinary(all)

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