The epidemiology of Bartonella infections in Richardson's ground squirrels (Spermophilus richardsonii) was studied at multiple sites in Saskatchewan, Canada, from 2002 to 2004. The overall prevalence of Bartonella infection was 48%. Juvenile squirrels were significantly more likely to be infected with Bartonella than were adults (58% and 37%, respectively), and juvenile animals also were significantly more likely to have high levels of bacteremia compared to adult animals. Prevalence of Bartonella infection appeared to decrease with age; only 24% of animals known to be ≥2 yr old were infected with Bartonella. Prevalence of infection was lowest in May (27%) and highest in late summer and early autumn (71%). The prevalence of fleas also varied seasonally, and animals were more likely to have fleas in the late summer and early autumn than in early summer. We found no relationship between Bartonella prevalence and host density or flea prevalence.
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Vol. 42 • No. 4