The cat flea Ctenocephalides felis is the main vector of Bartonella henselae and Bartonella clarridgeiae, the causative agents of cat-scratch disease (CSD) and the spotted-fever agent Rickettsia felis. In spite of their worldwide distribution, there are no data on the occurrence of CSD-causing Bartonella species or the prevalence of Rickettsia species in the Canary Islands, Spain. Therefore, the aim of our study was to screen cat and dog fleas for both pathogens. A total of 128 C. felis from cats and dogs were screened for Bartonella and Rickettsia by PCR. Bartonella henselae (2.3%) and B. clarridgeiae (3.9%) were found in fleas infesting cats, whereas R. felis was identified in both cat (36.6%) and dog (40.7%) fleas. Further, co-infections were observed. This work constitutes the first finding of CSD-causing Bartonella species and the first study on the prevalence of R. felis in fleas from domestic animals in the Canary Islands. These results indicate public health importance, as associated infections could be misdiagnosed in the Archipelago despite their clinical relevance. Establishing human and animal routine diagnosis procedures for these pathogens along with improving vector control in shelters is necessary in order to prevent the spread of the infections among animals.
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Vol. 45 • No. 2