Volume 74, Issue 4
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645


The human body louse, the natural vector of , is able to experimentally transmit the normally flea-borne rickettsia , suggesting that the relationships between the body louse and rickettsiae are not specific. We used our experimental infection model to test the ability of body lice to transmit two prevalent tick-borne rickettsiae. Each of two rabbits was made bacteremic by injecting intravenously 2 × 10 plaque-forming units of either or . Four hundred body lice were infected by feeding on the bacteremic rabbit and were compared with 400 uninfected lice. Each louse group was fed once a day on a separate seronegative rabbit. The survival of infected lice was not different from that of uninfected controls. Lice remained infected for their lifespan, excreted and in their feces, but did not transmit the infection to their progeny. The nurse rabbit of uninfected lice remained asymptomatic and seronegative. Those rabbits used to feed infected lice developed bacteremia and seroconverted. Although the body louse is not a known vector of spotted fevers, it was able in our study to acquire, maintain, and transmit both and


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  • Received : 06 Jul 2004
  • Accepted : 26 Mar 2005

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