Volume 78, Issue 6
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645


In recent decades, the majority of human plague cases (caused by ) have been reported from Africa. In northwest Uganda, which has had recent plague outbreaks, cat fleas () have been reported as the most common fleas in the home environment, which is suspected to be a major exposure site for human plague in this country. In the past, has been viewed as only a nuisance-biting insect because limited laboratory studies suggested it is incapable of transmitting or is an inefficient vector. Our laboratory study shows that is a competent vector of plague bacteria, but that efficiency is low compared with another flea species collected in the same area: the oriental rat flea, . On the other hand, despite its low vector efficiency, is the most common flea in human habitations in a plague-endemic region of Uganda (Arua and Nebbi Districts), and occasionally infests potential rodent reservoirs of such as the roof rat () or the Nile rat (). Plague control programs in this region should remain focused on reducing rat flea populations, although our findings imply that cat fleas should not be ignored by these programs as they could play a significant role as secondary vectors.


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  • Received : 22 Jan 2008
  • Accepted : 20 Mar 2008

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