First report for the seasonal and annual prevalence of flea-borne bartonella from rodents and soricomorphs in the republic of Korea.
Rodents and soricomorphs are animal hosts of fleas and associated zoonotic microbial pathogens. A total of 4,889 small mammals were collected from Gyeonggi and Gangwon Provinces, Republic of Korea, from 2008 through 2010, including: Apodemus agrarius (4,122, 84.3%), followed by Crocidura lasiura (282, 5.8%), Microtus fortis (257, 5.3%), Myodes regulus (77, 1.6%), Micromys minutus (71, 1.5%), Mus musculus (63, 1.3%), and 4 other species (17, 0.3%). A total of 1,099 fleas belonging to 10 species and 7 genera were collected. Ctenophthalmus congeneroides (724, 65.9%) was the most commonly collected flea, followed by Stenoponia sidimi (301, 27.4%), Neopsylla bidentatiformis (29, 2.6%), and Rhadinopsylla insolita (25, 2.3%). The remaining species accounted for only 1.8% (20, range 1-6) of all fleas collected. The 2 dominant flea species, C. congeneroides and S. sidimi, showed an inverse seasonal pattern, with higher populations of C. congeneroides from January-September, whereas S. sidimi was more frequently collected during October-December. The overall flea infestation rates (FIR) and flea indices (FI) were 14.1% and 0.22, respectively, and were highest during April-June (19.7% and 0.30, respectively). A total of 735 of the 1,099 fleas were assayed for the detection of Bartonella spp. by PCR using Bartonella-specific primers, of which 515 were positive for Bartonella, with an overall maximum likelihood estimate (MLE) of 700.7/1,000. The highest MLE values were observed during April-June (899.2) and July-September (936.2) trapping periods and, although lower, were similar for January-March (566.7) and October-December (574.1). C. congeneroides demonstrated high MLEs for all seasons (range 752.5-934.8), while S. sidimi was positive for Bartonella only during January-March (MLE=342.1) and October-December (MLE=497.2) collection periods. Continued long-term surveillance of small mammals and associated ectoparasites is needed to improve our understanding of the prevalence of Bartonella spp. in fleas and the role of fleas in the zoonotic maintenance and transmission of Bartonella to humans.