Two out of three pools of cat fleas, Ctenocephalides felis (Bouché), that were fed Bartonella henselae-positive cat blood for 3 d and then bovine blood for 3 d, were polymerase chain reaction (PCR) positive for B. henselae. In a second experiment, three cats were inoculated with a streptomycin-resistant strain of B. henselae. After the cats were inoculated, caged cat fleas were fed on the cats during three different periods, and then pooled and transferred to noninfected recipient cats. In the first trial, the bacteria in the flea feces were below level of detection when the fleas were transferred from the infected cats to the recipient cat. After the fleas had fed on the recipient cat for 6 d, a bacteria level of 4.00 × 103 CFU/mg was detected in the flea feces. Subsequently, the bacteria level increased for 4 d and then declined. In another experiment, the bacteria level in the flea feces was 1.80 × 103 CFU/mg at 2 h after collection and 3.33 × 102 CFU/mg at 72 h after collection. These data indicated that this strain of B. henselae can persist in flea feces in the environment for at least 3 d, and that B. henselae can multiply in the cat flea.
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Vol. 39 • No. 6