Bartonella Spp. In Fruit Bats and Blood-Feeding Ectoparasites in Madagascar

PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2015 Feb 23;9(2):e0003532. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0003532. eCollection 2015 Feb.


We captured, ectoparasite-combed, and blood-sampled cave-roosting Madagascan fruit bats (Eidolon dupreanum) and tree-roosting Madagascan flying foxes (Pteropus rufus) in four single-species roosts within a sympatric geographic foraging range for these species in central Madagascar. We describe infection with novel Bartonella spp. in sampled Eidolon dupreanum and associated bat flies (Cyclopodia dubia), which nest close to or within major known Bartonella lineages; simultaneously, we report the absence of Bartonella spp. in Thaumapsylla sp. fleas collected from these same bats. This represents the first documented finding of Bartonella infection in these species of bat and bat fly, as well as a new geographic record for Thaumapsylla sp. We further relate the absence of both Bartonella spp. and ectoparasites in sympatrically sampled Pteropus rufus, thus suggestive of a potential role for bat flies in Bartonella spp. transmission. These findings shed light on transmission ecology of bat-borne Bartonella spp., recently demonstrated as a potentially zoonotic pathogen.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bartonella / genetics
  • Bartonella / pathogenicity*
  • Bartonella Infections / microbiology
  • Bartonella Infections / transmission*
  • Chiroptera / microbiology*
  • Disease Reservoirs / microbiology*
  • Female
  • Madagascar
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny
  • Siphonaptera / microbiology*

Associated data

  • GENBANK/KM030507
  • GENBANK/KP010150
  • GENBANK/KP010151
  • GENBANK/KP010152
  • GENBANK/KP010153
  • GENBANK/KP010154
  • GENBANK/KP010155
  • GENBANK/KP010156
  • GENBANK/KP010158
  • GENBANK/KP010159
  • GENBANK/KP010160
  • GENBANK/KP010162
  • GENBANK/KP010163
  • GENBANK/KP010164
  • GENBANK/KP010191
  • GENBANK/KP010192
  • GENBANK/KP010193

Grant support

Field work was supported via the following three small grants to CEB: [1] National Geographic Society Young Explorer's Grant to CEB (YEG #926-13,, [2] Princeton University Center for Health and Wellbeing Health Grand Challenge grant (, [3] American Society of Mammalogists Grant-in-Aid of Research ( Sample analysis was funded by a National Science Foundation Division of Environmental Biology grant (#:1050793) to KD. Publication fees were covered by a National Science Foundation grant (#: 23400 G0001 10004452) to APD. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.