Metagenomic analysis of human-biting cat fleas in urban northeastern United States of America reveals an emerging zoonotic pathogen

Francisco C. Ferreira, Dina M. Fonseca, George Hamilton, Dana Price

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

An infestation of cat fleas in a research center led to the detection of two genotypes of Ctenocephalides felis biting humans in New Jersey, USA. The rarer flea genotype had an 83% incidence of Rickettsia asembonensis, a recently described bacterium closely related to R. felis, a known human pathogen. A metagenomics analysis developed in under a week recovered the entire R. asembonensis genome at high coverage and matched it to identical or almost identical (> 99% similarity) strains reported worldwide. Our study exposes the potential of cat fleas as vectors of human pathogens in crowded northeastern U.S, cities and suburbs where free-ranging cats are abundant. Furthermore, it demonstrates the power of metagenomics to glean large amounts of comparative data regarding both emerging vectors and their pathogens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number15611
JournalScientific reports
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

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