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A review of public health important fleas (Insecta, Siphonaptera) and flea-borne diseases in India

1 ICMR-Vector Control Research Centre Field Station, Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India
2 ICMR Vector Control Research Centre, Puducherry, India

Correspondence Address:
P Philip Samuel,
ICMR-Vector Control Research Centre, Field Station, Madurai, Department of Health Research, No.4, Sarojini Street, Chinnachokkikulam, Madurai-625002, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-9062.328977

Fleas (Insecta, Siphonaptera) are important vectors of plague and murine typhus in many parts of the world. Currently, about 2700 flea species were described in the world. The most common vector flea Xenopsylla cheopis0 is found throughout India, but X. astia, and X. brasiliensis are found less and limited in distribution associated with the domestic rats such as Rattus rattus, R. norvegicus, Mus musculus, and Bandicota bengalensis. Bubonic plague is a major flea-borne disease caused by the bacterial pathogen Yersinia pestis, transmitted from rats to humans via the rodent flea, X. cheopis. A major outbreak of plague and high mortality occurred in India. After 1966 with the 3 decadal intervals, plague cases occurred only during the year 1994 reported in 5 different states (Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh & one UT (New Delhi) and subsequently plague cases occurred during 2002 & 2004 after the one-decade interval in Himachal Pradesh (2002). Another outbreak of bubonic plague was reported in Dangud village, Barkhot tehsil, Uttarkashi district. Uttarakhand during October 2004. Ctenocephalides fleas are common in cats and dogs, which are the main vectors of bacteria rickettsiae, such as Rickettsia typhi, R. felis, R. conorii, and Bartonella henselae. Molecular and serological evidence also confirms the presence of R. typhi, R. conorii R. felis and B. henselae pathogens in cats and other fleas in India. Flea bites and flea-borne dermatitis are common in men and pet animals. Because of the re-emergence of the plague, updated information on fleas and flea-borne diseases are essential to control the flea vectors and flea-borne diseases in India. Hence, this comprehensive review updates the available information on fleas and fleas transmitted diseases in India.

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