Cat fleas (Ctenocephalides felis) carrying Rickettsia felis and Bartonella species in Hong Kong

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-212
Journal / PublicationParasitology International
Issue number2
Online published5 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


Fleas are commonly recorded on stray as well as domestic dogs and cats in Hong Kong. Fleas can be a major cause of pruritus in dogs and cats and also vectors of potentially zoonotic bacteria in the genera Rickettsia and Bartonella. Morphological examination of 174 fleas from dogs and cats living in Hong Kong revealed only cat fleas (Ctenocephalides felis). Cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 gene (cox1) genotyping of 20 randomly selected specimens, revealed three cox1 haplotypes (HK-h1 to HK-h3). The most common haplotype was HK-h1 with 17 specimens (17/20, 85%). HK-h1 was identical to cox1 sequences of fleas in Thailand and Fiji. HK-h1 and HK-h2 form a distinct cat flea cox1 clade previously recognized as the Clade 3. HK-h3 forms a new Clade 6. A multiplex Bartonella and Rickettsia real-time PCR of DNA from 20 C. felis found Bartonella and Rickettsia DNA in three (15%) and ten (50%) C. felis, respectively. DNA sequencing confirmed the presence of R. felis, B. clarridgeiae and Bartonella henselae. This is the first reported study of that kind in Hong Kong, and further work is required to expand the survey of companion animals in the geographical region. The sampling of fleas on domestic cats and dogs in Hong Kong revealed them to be exclusively infested by the cat flea and to be harbouring pathogens of zoonotic potential.

Research Area(s)

  • Bartonella, Ctenocephalides felis, Pathogens, Real-time PCR, Rickettsia, Sequencing

Bibliographic Note

Research Unit(s) information for this publication is provided by the author(s) concerned.