PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2015 May 22;9(5):e0003789. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0003789. eCollection 2015.

Competence of Cimex lectularius Bed Bugs for the Transmission of Bartonella quintana, the Agent of Trench Fever.

Leulmi H1, Bitam I2, Berenger JM3, Lepidi H3, Rolain JM3, Almeras L3, Raoult D3, Parola P3.

Author information

  • 1Aix Marseille Université, Unité de Recherche en Maladies Infectieuses et Tropicales Emergentes (URMITE), UM63, CNRS 7278, IRD 198 (Dakar), Inserm 1095, World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborative Center for Rickettsioses and Other Arthropod-Borne Bacterial Diseases, Marseille, France; Ecole Nationale Supérieure Vétérinaire d'Alger, Alger, Algérie.
  • 2Ecole Nationale Supérieure Vétérinaire d'Alger, Alger, Algérie; Université de Boumerdes,
  • Laboratoire VALCORE, Faculté des Sciences, Boumerdes, Algérie; Université de Bab Ezzouar, Laboratoire d'Ecologie et Environnement, Alger, Algérie.
  • 3Aix Marseille Université, Unité de Recherche en Maladies Infectieuses et Tropicales Emergentes (URMITE), UM63, CNRS 7278, IRD 198 (Dakar), Inserm 1095, World Health Organization
  • (WHO) Collaborative Center for Rickettsioses and Other Arthropod-Borne Bacterial Diseases, Marseille, France.

Abstract

Bartonella quintana, the etiologic agent of trench fever and other

human diseases, is transmitted by the feces of body lice. Recently, this bacterium has been

detected in other arthropod families such as bed bugs, which begs the question of their

involvement in B. quintana transmission.

Although several infectious pathogens have been reported and are suggested to be transmitted by bed bugs, the evidence regarding their competence as vectors is unclear.

Bed bugs at the adult and instar developmental

stages were fed three successive human blood meals inoculated with B. quintana bacterium

from day one (D1) to D5; subsequently they were fed with pathogen-free human blood until

the end of the experiment.

Bed bugs and feces were collected in time series, to evaluate their capacities to acquire, multiply and expel viable B. quintana using molecular biology, immunohistochemistry and cultures assays.

B. quintana was detected molecularly in 100% of randomly selected experimentally infected bed bug specimens (D3).

The monitoring of B. quintana in bed bug feces showed that the bacterium was detectable starting on the 3rd day post-infection (pi) and persisted until day 18±1 pi. Although immunohistochemistry assays

localized the bacteria to the gastrointestinal bed bug gut, the detection of B. quintana in the first

and second instar larva stages suggested a vertical non-transovarial transmission of the

bacterium.

The present work demonstrated for the first time that bed bugs can acquire,

maintain for more than 2 weeks and release viable B. quintana organisms following a

stercorarial shedding. We also observed the vertical transmission of the bacterium to their

progeny. Although the biological role of bed bugs in the transmission of B. quintana under

natural conditions has yet to be confirmed, the present work highlights the need to

reconsider monitoring of these arthropods for the transmission of human pathogens.

PMID: 26000974 [PubMed - in process] PMCID: PMC4441494 Free PMC Article

Survey of Bartonella spp. in U.S. bed bugs detects Burkholderia multivorans but not Bartonella.

Saenz VL, Maggi RG, Breitschwerdt EB, Kim J, Vargo EL, Schal C.

PLoS One. 2013 Sep 9;8(9):e73661. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0073661. eCollection 2013.

PMID: 24040015 Free PMC Article

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