Bartonella species in bat flies (Diptera: Nycteribiidae) from western Africa

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Vector Borne Diseases, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA.
Parasitology (Impact Factor: 2.56). 03/2012; 139(3):324-9. DOI: 10.1017/S0031182011002113
Source: PubMed


Bat flies are obligate ectoparasites of bats and it has been hypothesized that they may be involved in the transmission of Bartonella species between bats. A survey was conducted to identify whether Cyclopodia greefi greefi (Diptera: Nycteribiidae) collected from Ghana and 2 islands in the Gulf of Guinea harbour Bartonella. In total, 137 adult flies removed from Eidolon helvum, the straw-coloured fruit bat, were screened for the presence of Bartonella by culture and PCR analysis. Bartonella DNA was detected in 91 (66·4%) of the specimens examined and 1 strain of a Bartonella sp., initially identified in E. helvum blood from Kenya, was obtained from a bat fly collected in Ghana. This is the first study, to our knowledge, to report the identification and isolation of Bartonella in bat flies from western Africa.

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Available from: David T S Hayman, Apr 24, 2014
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    • "Bartonellae are primarily transmitted by arthropod vectors, including fleas (Insecta: Siphonaptera ), ticks (Arachnida: Parasitiformes), mites (Arachnida: Mesostigmata), and flies (Insecta: Diptera) (Bai and Kosoy 2012). Ectoparasitic bat flies in the families Nycteribiidae and Streblidae are likely important vectors of, and possibly reservoirs for, bartonellae within the order Chiroptera (Billeter et al. 2012; Morse et al. 2012). "
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    • "Because bat flies are viviparous and deposit a non-feeding pupa, vertical transmission of bartonellae likely happens in the female fly, either transovarially, or through milk gland secretions fed to the intra-uterine larva (Trowbridge et al., 2005; Hosokawa et al., 2011). Both properties – co-phylogeny, and vertical transmission – may also point to a mutualistic function of bartonellae in the fly, but because usually not all bat flies per population harbor Bartonella (Billeter et al., 2012), this may constitute a facultative association. The latter idea is further supported by research showing Arsenophonus as a candidate for obligate (i.e., primary) microbial associations in most bat flies (Trowbridge et al., 2005; Hosokawa et al., 2011). "
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