Volume 95, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



Murine typhus is an acute undifferentiated febrile illness caused by . The classic reservoir ( spp.) and flea vector () were once culprits of murine typhus in the United States. Vector and rodent control efforts have drastically decreased the prevalence of disease, except in a few endemic foci where opossums and cat fleas play a role in transmission. Since 2012, there has been a reemergence of murine typhus in Galveston, TX. We hypothesize that opossums and cat fleas are involved in the transmission of in Galveston. To explore this, we sought to find the seroprevalence of typhus group antibodies from opossums. We also sought to find the prevalence of in fleas parasitizing these animals. We collected blood from 12 opossums and found that eight (66.7%) had the presence of anti- antibodies. All opossums were infested with fleas; a total of 250 fleas were collected from these animals. Seven opossums (53.8%) were infested with fleas that had molecular evidence of infection, while six (46.2%) were infested with fleas that contained Rickettsia senegalensis, an organism closely related to . The minimum flea infection rate for was 7.0%. The minimum infection rate for R. senegalensis was 6.1%. Our study demonstrates that fleas infected with parasitize opossums in Galveston. It is therefore likely that opossums and their fleas play a role in the city's recent reemergence of murine typhus.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...



  1. Civen R, Ngo V, , 2008. Murine typhus: an unrecognized suburban vectorborne disease. Clin Infect Dis 46: 913918.[Crossref]
  2. Walter G, Botelho-Nevers E, Socolovschi C, Raoult D, Parola P, , 2012. Murine typhus in returned travelers: a report of thirty-two cases. Am J Trop Med Hyg 86: 10491053.[Crossref]
  3. Chikeka I, Dumler JS, , 2015. Neglected bacterial zoonoses. Clin Microbiol Infect 21: 404415.[Crossref]
  4. Blanton LS, Vohra RF, Bouyer DH, Walker DH, , 2015. Reemergence of murine typhus in Galveston, Texas, USA, 2013. Emerg Infect Dis 21: 484486.[Crossref]
  5. Adjemian J, Parks S, McElroy K, Campbell J, Eremeeva ME, Nicholson WL, McQuiston J, Taylor J, , 2010. Murine typhus in Austin, Texas, USA, 2008. Emerg Infect Dis 16: 412417.[Crossref]
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2003. Murine typhus—Hawaii, 2002. MMWR 52: 12241226.
  7. Pratt HD, , 1958. The changing picture of murine typhus in the United States. Ann N Y Acad Sci 70: 516527.[Crossref]
  8. Strandtmann RW, Eben DJ, , 1953. A survey of typhus in rats and rat ectoparasites in Galveston, Texas. Tex Rep Biol Med 11: 144151.
  9. Adams WH, Emmons RW, Brooks JE, , 1970. The changing ecology of murine (endemic) typhus in southern California. Am J Trop Med Hyg 19: 311318.
  10. Schriefer ME, Sacci JB, Jr Taylor JP, Higgins JA, Azad AF, , 1994. Murine typhus: updated roles of multiple urban components and a second typhus like Rickettsia . J Med Entomol 31: 681685.[Crossref]
  11. Older JJ, , 1970. The epidemiology of murine typhus in Texas, 1969. JAMA 214: 20112017.[Crossref]
  12. Taylor JP, Betz TG, Rawlings JA, , 1986. Epidemiology of murine typhus in Texas: 1980 through 1984. JAMA 255: 21732176.[Crossref]
  13. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2006. Pictorial Key to Arthropods, Reptiles, Birds, and Mammals of Public Health Significance. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehs/publications/pictorial_keys.htm. Accessed November 19, 2015.
  14. Labruna MB, Whitworth T, Horta MC, Bouyer DH, McBride JW, Pinter A, Popov V, Gennari SM, Walker DH, , 2004. Rickettsia species infecting Amblyomma cooperi ticks from an area in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil, where Brazilian spotted fever is endemic. J Clin Microbiol 42: 9098.[Crossref]
  15. Regnery RL, Spruill CL, Plikaytis BD, , 1991. Genotypic identification of rickettsiae and estimation of intraspecies sequence divergence for portions of two rickettsial genes. J Bacteriol 173: 15761589.[Crossref]
  16. Webb L, Carl M, Malloy DC, Dasch GA, Azad AF, , 1990. Detection of murine typhus infection in fleas by using the polymerase chain reaction. J Clin Microbiol 28: 530534.
  17. Zavala-Velazquez JE, Zavala-Castro JE, Vado-Solis I, Ruiz-Sosa JA, Moron CG, Bouyer DH, Walker DH, , 2002. Identification of Ctenocephalides felis fleas as a host of Rickettsia felis, the agent of a spotted fever rickettsiosis in Yucatan, Mexico. Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis 2: 6975.[Crossref]
  18. Roux V, Raoult D, , 2000. Phylogenetic analysis of members of the genus Rickettsia using the gene encoding the outer-membrane protein rOmpB (ompB). Int J Syst Evol Microbiol 50: 14491455.[Crossref]
  19. Philip RN, Casper EA, Ormsbee RA, Peacock MG, Burgdorfer W, , 1976. Microimmunofluorescence test for the serological study of Rocky Mountain spotted fever and typhus. J Clin Microbiol 3: 5161.
  20. Luce-Fedrow A, Macaluso KR, Richards AL, , 2014. Growth of Rickettsia felis in Drosophila melanogaster S2 cells. Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis 14: 101110.[Crossref]
  21. Biggerstaff BJ, , 2008. Confidence intervals for the difference of two proportions estimated from pooled samples. J Agric Biol Environ Stat 13: 478496.[Crossref]
  22. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015. Mosquito Surveillance Software. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/westnile/resourcepages/mosqsurvsoft.html. Accessed April 8, 2016.
  23. Azad AF, Radulovic S, Higgins JA, Noden BH, Troyer JM, , 1997. Flea-borne rickettsioses: ecologic considerations. Emerg Infect Dis 3: 319327.[Crossref]
  24. Sorvillo FJ, Gondo B, Emmons R, Ryan P, Waterman SH, Tilzer A, Andersen EM, Murray RA, Barr R, , 1993. A suburban focus of endemic typhus in Los Angeles County: association with seropositive domestic cats and opossums. Am J Trop Med Hyg 48: 269273.
  25. Boostrom A, Beier MS, Macaluso JA, Macaluso KR, Sprenger D, Hayes J, Radulovic S, Azad AF, , 2002. Geographic association of Rickettsia felis-infected opossums with human murine typhus, Texas. Emerg Infect Dis 8: 549554.[Crossref]
  26. Buttery CM, Magnuson LW, McLerran G, Villarreal T, , 1984. Endemic (murine) typhus in Corpus Christi. Tex Med 80: 5354.
  27. Eremeeva ME, Karpathy SE, Krueger L, Hayes EK, Williams AM, Zaldivar Y, Bennett S, Cummings R, Tilzer A, Velten RK, Kerr N, Dasch GA, Hu R, , 2012. Two pathogens and one disease: detection and identification of flea-borne rickettsiae in areas endemic for murine typhus in California. J Med Entomol 49: 14851494.[Crossref]
  28. Abramowicz KF, Wekesa JW, Nwadike CN, Zambrano ML, Karpathy SE, Cecil D, Burns J, Hu R, Eremeeva ME, , 2012. Rickettsia felis in cat fleas, Ctenocephalides felis parasitizing opossums, San Bernardino County, California. Med Vet Entomol 26: 458462.[Crossref]
  29. La Scola B, Raoult D, , 1996. Diagnosis of Mediterranean spotted fever by cultivation of Rickettsia conorii from blood and skin samples using the centrifugation-shell vial technique and by detection of R. conorii in circulating endothelial cells: a 6-year follow-up. J Clin Microbiol 34: 27222727.
  30. Mediannikov O, Aubadie-Ladrix M, Raoult D, , 2015. Candidatus ‘Rickettsia senegalensis’ in cat fleas in Senegal. New Microbes New Infect 3: 2428.[Crossref]
  31. Reeves WK, Nelder MP, Korecki JA, , 2005. Bartonella and Rickettsia in fleas and lice from mammals in South Carolina, USA. J Vector Ecol 30: 310315.
  32. Luce-Fedrow A, Maina AN, Otiang E, Ade F, Omulo S, Ogola E, Ochieng L, Njenga MK, Richards AL, , 2015. Isolation of Candidatus Rickettsia asemboensis from Ctenocephalides fleas. Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis 15: 268277.[Crossref]
  33. Jiang J, Maina AN, Knobel DL, Cleaveland S, Laudisoit A, Wamburu K, Ogola E, Parola P, Breiman RF, Njenga MK, Richards AL, , 2013. Molecular detection of Rickettsia felis and Candidatus Rickettsia asemboensis in fleas from human habitats, Asembo, Kenya. Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis 13: 550558.[Crossref]
  34. Vishwanath S, , 1991. Antigenic relationships among the rickettsiae of the spotted fever and typhus groups. FEMS Microbiol Lett 65: 341344.[Crossref]

Data & Media loading...

Supplementary Data

Supplementary PDF

  • Received : 11 Mar 2016
  • Accepted : 30 Apr 2016

Most Cited This Month

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error