Flea-borne Rickettsia species in fleas, Caldas department, Colombia
Keywords:Rickettsia felis, Rickettsia asembonensis, RFLP, vector-borne diseases, zoonotic diseases
Introduction: Rickettsioses are zoonotic diseases caused by pathogenic bacteria of the genus Rickettsia and transmitted to man by means of arthropod vectors such as ticks, fleas, mites and lice. Historically, Caldas Department has reported a significant number of cases of murine typhus to the Colombian national health surveillance system, and consequent studies of flea-borne rickettsiosis identified the circulation of Rickettsia typhi and Rickettsia felis in multiple municipalities. Our aim was to genotype species of Rickettsia detected in fleas collected from domestic and wild mammals in Caldas.
Methodology: Flea samples were taken by convenience sampling from dogs, cats and wild mammals (rodents and marsupials) in 26 municipalities. Specimens were classified by current taxonomic keys and pooled for DNA extraction and molecular screening for Rickettsia spp. by PCR amplification of gltA, htrA and sca5 genes. Positive samples were genotyped by enzyme digestion (htrA) and sequencing.
Results: A total of 1388 flea samples were collected. Rickettsia DNA was amplified in 818 (gltA), 883 (htrA) and 424 (sca5) flea pools. Alignment analysis with available Rickettsia DNA sequences showed greater similarity with R. asembonensis (gltA) and with R. felis (sca5 and htrA). Restriction pattern was compatible with R. felis. R. typhi was not identified.
Conclusion: The present study confirms the presence and high prevalence of R. asembonensis and R. felis in fleas from domestic and wild animals in different municipalities from Caldas Department.
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