Epidemiological studies worldwide have reported a high prevalence and a great diversity of Bartonella species, both in rodents and their flea parasites. The interaction among Bartonella, wild rodents, and fleas reflects a high degree of adaptation among these organisms. Vertical and horizontal efficient Bartonella transmission pathways within flea communities and from fleas to rodents have been documented in competence studies, suggesting that fleas are key players in the transmission of Bartonella to rodents. Exploration of the ecological traits of rodents and their fleas may shed light on the mechanisms used by bartonellae to become established in these organisms. The present review explores the interrelations within the Bartonella-rodent-flea system. The role of the latter two components is emphasized.
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© 2015, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.