Geographic Association of Rickettsia felis-Infected Opossums with Human Murine Typhus, Texas
Published Date:Jun 2002
Source:Emerg Infect Dis. 8(6):549-554.
Polymerase Chain Reaction
Sequence Analysis, DNA
Typhus, Endemic Flea-Borne
Description:Application of molecular diagnostic technology in the past 10 years has resulted in the discovery of several new species of pathogenic rickettsiae, including Rickettsia felis. As more sequence information for rickettsial genes has become available, the data have been used to reclassify rickettsial species and to develop new diagnostic tools for analysis of mixed rickettsial pathogens. R. felis has been associated with opossums and their fleas in Texas and California. Because R. felis can cause human illness, we investigated the distribution dynamics in the murine typhus-endemic areas of these two states. The geographic distribution of R. felis-infected opossum populations in two well-established endemic foci overlaps with that of the reported human cases of murine typhus. Descriptive epidemiologic analysis of 1998 human cases in Corpus Christi, Texas, identified disease patterns consistent with studies done in the 1980s. A close geographic association of seropositive opossums (22% R. felis; 8% R. typhi) with human murine typhus cases was also observed.
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