RICKETTSIA FELIS INFECTION

Rickettsiae are strict intracellular bacteria requiring a host cell to replicate. Within the genus Rickettsia, three groups are differentiated, one of which is the spotted fever group (SFG), whose members are associated mainly with ticks, but also with fleas and mites (Raoult and Roux, 1997). Within the SFG, Rickettsia felis is an emerging insect-borne rickettsial human pathogen and the causative agent of flea-borne spotted fever, also named cat flea typhus. The primary vector and reservoir of R. felis is suggested to be the cat flea Ctenocephalides felis. Dogs and cats have been screened for their prevalence of R. felis and may act as an important reservoir host for R. felis and thus as a potential source of human rickettsial infection (Ahmed et al., 2016; Hii et al., 2011; Ng-Nguyen et al., 2020).

PATHOGENS

Rickettsia felis is an obligate intracellular bacterium in the order Rickettsiales (Merhej et al., 2014). It is classified in the spotted fever group (SFG) of Rickettsia and according to Angelakis et al. (2016) was probably first detected in European cat fleas (Ctenocephalides felis felis) in 1918 and tentatively named ‘Rickettsia ctenocephali’ (Adams et al., 1990; Parola, 2011). In 1990, a Rickettsia-like organism originally named ELB agent, that resembled Rickettsia typhi, was observed by electron microscopy in the cytoplasm of midgut cells of a colony of cat fleas (Adams et al., 1990; Parola, 2011). The first isolation of R. felis was achieved in 2001 (Raoult et al., 2001).

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