Identification of Ctenocephalides felis fleas as a host of Rickettsia felis, the agent of a spotted fever rickettsiosis in Yucatań, Mexico.

J. E. Zavala-Velázquez, J. E. Zavala-Castro, I. Vado-Solís, J. A. Ruiz-Sosa, C. G. Moron, Donald Bouyer, David Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

40 Scopus citations


In search for the vector of the recently recognized spotted fever rickettsiosis of the Yucatán, ticks, fleas, and lice were collected from vegetation and dogs in localities where seropositive persons had been found. The arthropods were examined by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using primers for the genus-specific 17-kDa protein gene followed by restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) and DNA sequencing. Eleven (20%) of 54 pools of Ctenocephalides felis fleas contained DNA of Rickettsia felis. None of 219 Amblyomma cajennense, 474 Rhiphicephalus sanguineus, 258 Boophilus sp. ticks, and 33 Poliplax species lice contained DNA of Rickettsia. The identity of the rickettsial DNA was confirmed as R. felis by PCR/RFLP for the citrate synthase and outer membrane protein A genes and by DNA sequencing. The results indicate that the host of R. felis in Yucatán is C. felis and suggest that the spotted fever rickettsiosis that has infected >5% of the population of the Yucatán and can present as a dengue-like illness is likely to be caused by R. felis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-75
Number of pages7
JournalVector Borne Zoonotic Dis
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2002
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Parasitology

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