How to translate text using browser tools
26 February 2020 Presence of the Oriental Rat Flea (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae) Infesting an Endemic Mammal and Confirmed Plague Circulation in a Forest Area of Madagascar
Mireille Harimalala, Soanandrasana Rahelinirina, Romain Girod
Author Affiliations +

The Oriental rat flea, Xenopsylla cheopis (Rothschild 1903), is a cosmopolitan flea usually found infesting domestic rats. This flea is a well-known major human plague vector in Madagascar. As part of field sampling, fleas and small mammals were collected in the village of South Andranofeno and the natural reserve of Sohisika, two sites of the district of Ankazobe, located in the Central Highlands of Madagascar. Rats inside houses and forest small mammals were trapped using Besancon Technical Services and pitfall traps, respectively. Their fleas were collected and preserved for laboratory works. Collected fleas from the village and forest belonged to five species, which were X. cheopis, Synopsyllus fonquerniei (Wagner and Roubaud 1932) (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae), Echidnophaga gallinacea (Westwood 1875) (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae), Ctenocephalides felis strongylus (Jordan 1925) (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae), Pulex irritans (Linnaeus 1758) (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae). After sampling in the forest zone, one specimen of X. cheopis was unexpectedly collected while infesting an endemic tenrec Setifer setosus (Schreber 1777) (Afrosoricida: Tenrecidae). Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) diagnosis on all collected fleas allowed detecting plague bacterium Yersinia pestis (Lehmann and Neumann 1896) (Enterobacterales:Yersiniaceae) on nine specimens of the endemic flea S. fonquerniei collected inside forest.The presence of the oriental rat flea in forest highlights the connection between human and wild environments due to animal movements and the fact that the rat flea can infest various hosts. As only one specimen of X. cheopis was collected on S. setosus, we hypothesize that flea was carried from the village to forest. Yersinia pestis infection of forest fleas outlines plague circulation in this sylvatic area.

© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Entomological Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:
Mireille Harimalala, Soanandrasana Rahelinirina, and Romain Girod "Presence of the Oriental Rat Flea (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae) Infesting an Endemic Mammal and Confirmed Plague Circulation in a Forest Area of Madagascar," Journal of Medical Entomology 57(4), 1318-1323, (26 February 2020).
Received: 23 September 2019; Accepted: 26 January 2020; Published: 26 February 2020

This article is only available to subscribers.
It is not available for individual sale.

Greater hedgehog tenrec
Oriental rat flea
Sylvatic plague
Get copyright permission
Back to Top