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Keywords:

  • Rickettsia felis;
  • cat flea;
  • genotyping;
  • opossums

Los Angeles and Orange Counties are known endemic areas for murine typhus in California; however, no recent reports of flea-borne rickettsioses are known from adjacent San Bernardino County. Sixty-five opossums (Didelphis virginiana) were trapped in the suburban residential and industrial zones of the southwestern part of San Bernardino County in 2007. Sixty out of 65 opossums were infested with fleas, primarily cat fleas, Ctenocephalides felis (Bouché, 1835). The flea minimum infection rate with Rickettsia felis was 13.3% in pooled samples and the prevalence was 23.7% in single fleas, with two gltA genotypes detected. In spite of historic records of murine typhus in this area, no evidence for circulation of R. typhi in fleas was found during the present study. Factors contributing to the absence of R. typhi in these cat fleas in contrast to its presence in cat fleas from Orange and Los Angeles Counties are unknown and need to be investigated further in San Bernardino County.