Relationship between the presence of Bartonella species and bacterial loads in cats and cat fleas (Ctenocephalides felis) under natural conditions

Ricardo Gutiérrez, Yaarit Nachum-Biala, Shimon Harrus*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Cats are considered the main reservoir of three zoonotic Bartonella species: Bartonella henselae, Bartonella clarridgeiae, and Bartonella koehlerae. Cat fleas (Ctenocephalides felis) have been experimentally demonstrated to be a competent vector of B. henselae and have been proposed as the potential vector of the two other Bartonella species. Previous studies have reported a lack of association between the Bartonella species infection status (infected or uninfected) and/or bacteremia levels of cats and the infection status of the fleas they host. Nevertheless, to date, no study has compared the quantitative distributions of these bacteria in both cats and their fleas under natural conditions. Thus, the present study explored these relationships by identifying and quantifying the different Bartonella species in both cats and their fleas. Therefore, EDTA-blood samples and fleas collected from stray cats were screened for Bartonella bacteria. Bacterial loads were quantified by high-resolution melt real-time quantitative PCR assays. The results indicated a moderate correlation between the Bartonella bacterial loads in the cats and their fleas when both were infected with the same Bartonella species. Moreover, a positive effect of the host infection status on the Bartonella bacterial loads of the fleas was observed. Conversely, the cat bacterial loads were not affected by the infection status of their fleas. Our results suggest that the Bartonella bacterial loads of fleas are positively affected by the presence of the bacteria in their feline host, probably by multiple acquisitions/accumulation and/or multiplication events.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)5613-5621
Number of pages9
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number16
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, American Society for Microbiology.


Dive into the research topics of 'Relationship between the presence of Bartonella species and bacterial loads in cats and cat fleas (Ctenocephalides felis) under natural conditions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this