Rickettsial infections of fleas collected from small mammals on four islands in Indonesia.
ABSTRACT Ectoparasites were sampled from small mammals collected in West Java, West Sumatra, North Sulawesi, and East Kalimantan, Indonesia, in 2007-2008 and were screened for evidence of infection from bacteria in the Rickettsaceae family. During eight trap nights at eight sites, 208 fleas were collected from 96 of 507 small mammals trapped from four orders (379 Rodentia; 123 Soricomorpha; two Carnivora; three Scandentia). Two species of fleas were collected: Xenopsylla cheopis (n = 204) and Nosopsyllus spp. (n = 4). Among the 208 fleas collected, 171 X. cheopis were removed from rats (Rattus spp.) and 33 X. cheopis from shrews (Suncus murinus). X. cheopis were pooled and tested for DNA from rickettsial agents Rickettsia typhi, Rickettsia felis, and spotted fever group rickettsiae. R. typhi, the agent of murine typhus, was detected in X. cheopis collected from small mammals in West Java and East Kalimantan. R. felis was detected in X. cheopis collected from small mammals in Manado, North Sulawesi. R. felis and spotted fever group rickettsiae were detected in a pool of X. cheopis collected from an animal in East Kalimantan. Sixteen percent of the X. cheopis pools were found positive for Rickettsia spp.; four (10.8%) R. typhi, one (2.7%) R. felis, and one (2.7%) codetection of R. felis and a spotted fever group rickettsia. These data suggest that rickettsial infections remain a threat to human health across Indonesia.