Le Grand, CA, United States
Le Grand, CA, United States

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Eremeeva M.E.,Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch | Eremeeva M.E.,Georgia Southern University | Karpathy S.E.,Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch | Krueger L.,Center for Infectious Diseases | And 10 more authors.
Journal of Medical Entomology | Year: 2012

Results of an environmental assessment conducted in a newly emergent focus of murine typhus in southern California are described. Opossums, Didelphis virginiana Kerr, infested with cat fleas, Ctenocephalides felis Buch, in the suburban area were abundant. Animal and flea specimens were tested for the DNA of two flea-borne rickettsiae, Rickettsia typhi and Rickettsia felis. R. felis was commonly detected in fleas collected throughout this area while R. typhi was found at a much lower prevalence in the vicinity of just 7 of 14 case-patient homes identified. DNA of R. felis, but not R. typhi, was detected in renal, hepatic, and pulmonary tissues of opossums. In contrast, there were no hematologic polymerase chain reaction findings of R. felis or R. typhi in opossums, rats, and cats within the endemic area studied. Our data suggest a significant probability of human exposure to R. felis in the area studied; however, disease caused by this agent is not recognized by the medical community and may be misdiagnosed as murine typhus using nondiscriminatory serologic methods. © 2012 Entomological Society of America.

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