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American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene




Rickettsia felis is an emerging human pathogen associated primarily with the cat flea Ctenocephalides felis. In this study, we investigated the presence of Rickettsia felis in C. felis from Guatemala and Costa Rica. Ctenocephalides felis were collected directly from dogs and cats, and analyzed by polymerase chain reaction for Rickettsia-specific fragments of 17-kDa protein, OmpA, and citrate synthase genes. Rickettsia DNA was detected in 64% (55 of 86) and 58% (47 of 81) of flea pools in Guatemala and Costa Rica, respectively. Sequencing of gltA fragments identified R. felis genotype URRWXCal2 in samples from both countries, and genotype Rf2125 in Costa Rica. This is the first report of R. felis in Guatemala and of genotype Rf2125 in Costa Rica. The extensive presence of this pathogen in countries of Central America stresses the need for increased awareness and diagnosis.


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