Bartonella quintana in head louse nits


  • Editor: Ake Forsberg

Correspondence: Philippe Brouqui, Faculté de Médecine et de Pharmacie, Université de la Méditerranée, URMITE UMR 6236, CNRS-IRD, 27 Bd Jean Moulin, 13385 Marseille cedex 05, France. Tel.: +33 491 38 55 17; fax: +33 491 83 03 90; e-mail:


The body louse is the principal vector of Bartonella quintana, the causative organism of trench fever, but B. quintana DNA has also been detected in adult head lice. Because there are no characteristics that distinguish the body louse from the head louse, we decided to test head louse nits collected from a homeless man for the presence of B. quintana DNA. All of the sampled nits tested positive by real-time PCR, and intergenic spacer region (ITS) gene sequences shared 100% similarity to the corresponding ITS fragment of the genome of B. quintana. The role of the head louse in the maintenance and transmission of B. quintana remains to be determined.