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A high prevalence of Bartonella infection is found in many natural systems; however, the transmission dynamics leading to observations of these infections is not fully understood. The capability of Xenopsylla ramesis fleas to serve as competent vectors of Bartonella sp. OE 1-1 (a strain closely related to the zoonotic Bartonella elizabethae) to Meriones crassus jirds was investigated. Naïve X. ramesis fleas were placed for 72 h on naïve jirds or jirds that were either experimentally or naturally infected with Bartonella sp. strain OE 1-1, after which they were placed on naïve jirds. Postfeeding, 69 to 100% of the fleas collected from each Bartonella-positive jird contained Bartonella DNA, and all naïve jirds became positive for Bartonella sp. OE 1-1 after infestation with the infected fleas. In addition, maternal transmission of Bartonella sp. OE 1-1 in jirds was tested by mating 5 Bartonella-positive and 5 naïve female jirds with 10 naïve male jirds in the absence of fleas. Fifteen offspring were delivered by each group. Cultures of blood drawn from all offspring on days 35 and 47 postdelivery were found to be negative for Bartonella. A single spleen sample from the offspring of a Bartonella-positive mother was found molecularly positive for Bartonella sp. OE 1-1. This study demonstrates that X. ramesis fleas are competent vectors of Bartonella sp. OE 1-1 to M. crassus jirds and indicates that maternal transmission is probably not the major transmission route from female jirds to their offspring. We suggest that the dynamics of Bartonella sp. OE 1-1 in the M. crassus jird population in nature is mostly dependent on its vectors.

Citation

Danny Morick, Boris R Krasnov, Irina S Khokhlova, Yuval Gottlieb, Shimon Harrus. Transmission dynamics of Bartonella sp. strain OE 1-1 in Sundevall's jirds (Meriones crassus). Applied and environmental microbiology. 2013 Feb;79(4):1258-64

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PMID: 23241972

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