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A New Clade of African Body and Head Lice Infected by Bartonella quintana and Yersinia pestis—Democratic Republic of the Congo

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  • Unité de Recherche sur les Maladies Infectieuses et Tropicales Emergentes (URMITE), Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique No. 7278 (CNRS7278), Institut de Recherche pour le Développement No. 198 (IRD198), Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale Unité No. 1095 (InsermU1095), Institut Hospitalo-Universitaire Méditerranée-Infection, Aix-Marseille Université, Marseille, France; Plague Reference Laboratory, Bunia, Democratic Republic of the Congo; Institute of Research for the Development, Dakar, Senegal

The human body louse is known as a vector for the transmission of three serious diseases—specifically, epidemic typhus, trench fever, and relapsing fever caused by Rickettsia prowazekii, Bartonella quintana, and Borrelia recurrentis, respectively—that have killed millions of people. It is also suspected in the transmission of a fourth pathogen, Yersinia pestis, which is the etiologic agent of plague. To date, human lice belonging to the genus Pediculus have been classified into three mitochondrial clades: A, B, and C. Here, we describe a fourth mitochondrial clade, Clade D, comprising head and body lice. Clade D may be a vector of B. quintana and Y. pestis, which is prevalent in a highly plague-endemic area near the Rethy Health District, Orientale Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Author Notes

* Address correspondence to Didier Raoult, Unité de Recherche sur les Maladies Infectieuses et Tropicales Emergentes (URMITE), Faculté de Médecine, 27 Boulevard Jean Moulin, 13385 Marseille Cedex 5, France. E-mail: didier.raoult@gmail.com

Authors' addresses: Rezak Drali, Bernard Davoust, and Didier Raoult, URMITE, CNRS7278, IRD198, InsermU1095, Institut Hospitalo-Universitaire Méditerranée-Infection, Aix-Marseille Université, Marseille, France, E-mails: rezakdrali@hotmail.com, bernard.davoust@gmail.com, and didier.raoult@gmail.com. Jean-Christophe Shako, Plague Reference Laboratory, Bunia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, E-mail: shakochri@yahoo.fr. Georges Diatta, Institute of Research for the Development, Dakar, Senegal, E-mail: georges.diatta@ird.fr.

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