(1/274) PCR detection of Yersinia pestis in fleas: comparison with mouse inoculation.

The "gold standard" for identifying Yersinia pestis-infected fleas has been inoculation of mice with pooled flea material. Inoculated mice are monitored for 21 days, and those that die are further analyzed for Y. pestis infection by fluorescent-antibody assay and/or culture. PCR may provide a more rapid and sensitive alternative for identifying Y. pestis in fleas. To compare these assays, samples were prepared from 381 field-collected fleas. Each flea was analyzed individually by both PCR and mouse inoculation. Sixty of the 381 flea samples were positive for Y. pestis by PCR; 48 of these PCR-positive samples caused death in mice (80.0% agreement). None of the 321 PCR-negative samples caused death. Among the 12 mice that survived inoculation with PCR-positive samples, 10 were later demonstrated by serology or culture to have been infected with Y. pestis. This suggests that death of inoculated mice is less reliable than PCR as an indicator of the presence of Y. pestis in flea samples. Mouse inoculation assays produce results that are comparable to PCR only when surviving as well as dead mice are analyzed for infection. The rapidity and sensitivity (10 to 100 CFU of Y. pestis) of PCR suggest that it could serve as a useful alternative to mouse inoculation for routine plague surveillance and outbreak investigations.  (+info)

(2/274) Illnesses associated with occupational use of flea-control products--California, Texas, and Washington, 1989-1997.

Dips, shampoos, and other insecticide-containing flea-control products can produce systemic illnesses or localized symptoms in the persons applying them. Although these products may pose a risk to consumers, they are particularly hazardous to pet groomers and handlers who use them regularly. Illnesses associated with flea-control products were reported to the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, the Texas Department of Health, and the Washington State Department of Health, each of which maintains a surveillance system for identifying, investigating, and preventing pesticide-related illnesses and injuries. This report describes cases of occupational illnesses associated with flea-control products, summarizes surveillance data, and provides recommendations for handling these products safely.  (+info)

(3/274) Myxomatosis: passive immunity in the offspring of immune rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) infested with fleas (Spilopsyllus cuniculi Dale) and exposed to myxoma virus.

Kittens with maternal antibodies to myxoma virus, the offspring of rabbits which had recovered from myxomatosis, were exposed to fleas contaminated with myxoma virus and/or contact with infected rabbits from birth. All kittens died or became infected before 8 weeks of age. When compared with adult animals similarly infected the kittens showed no advantage in terms of survival time or recovery rate attributable to maternal antibodies. Flea transmission of virus was found more effective than contact transmissions.  (+info)

(4/274) The differential transmissibility of Myxoma virus strains of differing virulence grades by the rabbit flea Spilopsyllus cuniculi (Dale).

Laboratory studies showed that few rabbit fleas (Spilopsyllus cuniculi (Dale)) transmitted myxomatosis after removal from wild rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus (L) that had been infected for fever than 10-12 days, irrespective of the virulence of the myxoma virus strain involved. Rabbits infected with fully virulent (Grade I) strains died within 10-15 days and few fleas from these hosts became infective; averaging all the samples takem. 12% of the fleas were infective. Also, few fleas acquired infectivity on individual rabbits which covered from infection with attenuated strains; the mean was 8% infective. Rabbits which died between 17 and 44 days after infection had higher proportions of infective fleas at all sampling times; the mean was 42% infective. Male and female fleas transmitted virus with equal efficiency. For rabbits infected with any of the attenuated virus strains the mean percentage of infective fleas was inversely related to the survival time of the host. Rabbits infected with moderately attenuated strains (Grades IIIA and IIIB) had, on average, the highest proportion of infective fleas; hence such strains have a selective advantage and have become predominant under natural conditions in Britain. The changes that might occur if there is an increase in host resistance to myxomatosis are discussed.  (+info)

(5/274) Incidence of plague associated with increased winter-spring precipitation in New Mexico.

Plague occurs episodically in many parts of the world, and some outbreaks appear to be related to increased abundance of rodents and other mammals that serve as hosts for vector fleas. Climate dynamics may influence the abundance of both fleas and mammals, thereby having an indirect effect on human plague incidence. An understanding of the relationship between climate and plague could be useful in predicting periods of increased risk of plague transmission. In this study, we used correlation analyses of 215 human cases of plague in relation to precipitation records from 1948 to 1996 in areas of New Mexico with history of human plague cases (38 cities, towns, and villages). We conducted analyses using 3 spatial scales: global (El Nino-Southern Oscillation Indices [SOI]); regional (pooled state-wide precipitation averages); and local (precipitation data from weather stations near plague case sites). We found that human plague cases in New Mexico occurred more frequently following winter-spring periods (October to May) with above-average precipitation (mean plague years = 113% of normal rain/ snowfall), resulting in 60% more cases of plague in humans following wet versus dry winter-spring periods. However, we obtained significant results at local level only; regional state-wide precipitation averages and SOI values exhibited no significant correlations to incidence of human plague cases. These results are consistent with our hypothesis of a trophic cascade in which increased winter-spring precipitation enhances small mammal food resource productivity (plants and insects), leading to an increase in the abundance of plague hosts. In addition, moister climate conditions may act to promote flea survival and reproduction, also enhancing plague transmission. Finally, the result that the number of human plague cases in New Mexico was positively associated with higher than normal winter-spring precipitation at a local scale can be used by physicians and public health personnel to identify and predict periods of increased risk of plague transmission to humans.  (+info)

(6/274) Horizontal transmissible protection against myxomatosis and rabbit hemorrhagic disease by using a recombinant myxoma virus.

We have developed a new strategy for immunization of wild rabbit populations against myxomatosis and rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHD) that uses recombinant viruses based on a naturally attenuated field strain of myxoma virus (MV). The recombinant viruses expressed the RHDV major capsid protein (VP60) including a linear epitope tag from the transmissible gastroenteritis virus (TGEV) nucleoprotein. Following inoculation, the recombinant viruses induced specific antibody responses against MV, RHDV, and the TGEV tag. Immunization of wild rabbits by the subcutaneous and oral routes conferred protection against virulent RHDV and MV challenges. The recombinant viruses showed a limited horizontal transmission capacity, either by direct contact or in a flea-mediated process, promoting immunization of contact uninoculated animals.  (+info)

(7/274) A flea-associated Rickettsia pathogenic for humans.

A rickettsia named the ELB agent, or "Rickettsia felis," was identified by molecular biology techniques in American fleas in 1990 and later in four patients from Texas and Mexico. We attempted to isolate this rickettsia from infected fleas at various temperatures and conditions. A representative isolate of the ELB agent, the Marseille strain, was characterized and used to develop a microimmunofluorescence test that detected reactive antibodies in human sera. The ELB agent was isolated from 19 of 20 groups of polymerase chain reaction-proven infected fleas. The microimmunofluorescence results provided serologic evidence of infection by the ELB agent in four patients with fever and rash in France (2) and Brazil (2), supporting the pathogenic role of this rickettsia. Our successful isolation of this rickettsia makes it available for use in serologic tests to determine its clinical spectrum, prevalence, and distribution.  (+info)

(8/274) Quantitative competitive PCR as a technique for exploring flea-Yersina pestis dynamics.

We used a quantitative competitive polymerase chain reaction assay to quantify Yersinia pestis loads in fleas and bacteremia levels in mice that were used as sources of infectious blood meals for feeding the fleas. Xenopsylla cheopis, the Oriental rat flea, achieved higher infection rates, developed greater bacterial loads, and became infectious more rapidly than Oropsylla montana, a ground squirrel flea. Both flea species required about 10(6) Y. pestis cells per flea to be able to transmit to mice. Most fleas that achieved these levels, however, were incapable of transmitting. Our results suggest that at the time of flea feeding, host blood must contain > or = 10(6) bacteria/ml to result in detectable Y. pestis infections in these fleas, and > or = 10(7) bacteria/mL to cause infection levels sufficient for both species to eventually become capable of transmitting Y. pestis to uninfected mice. Yersinia pestis colonies primarily developed in the midguts of O. montana, whereas infections in X. cheopis often developed simultaneously in the proventriculus and the midgut. These findings were visually confirmed by infecting fleas with a strain of Y. pestis that had been transformed with the green fluorescent protein gene.  (+info)