Detection of bacterial pathogens including potential new species in human head lice from Mali

Created on 03.10.17

A new study has assessed the occurrence of bacterial pathogens from head lice collected in two rural villages from Mali, and identified for the first time, the presence of the DNA of two pathogenic bacteria, namely Coxiella burnetii (5.1%) and Rickettsia aeschlimannii (0.6%) detected in human head lice.

The study by Amanzougagheneet al., published in the September 2017 PLoS One Journal also highlighted the presence of the DNA of potential new species from the Anaplasma and Ehrlichia genera of unknown pathogenicity. All 600 head lice collected from 117 individuals belonged to clade E, specific to West Africa and Bartonella quintana, the causative agent of trench fever, was identified in three of the 600 (0.5%) head lice studied.

The finding of several Malian head lice infected with B. quintana, C. burnetii, R. aeschlimannii, Anaplasma and Ehrlichia is alarming and highlights the need for active survey programs to define the public health consequences of the detection of these emerging bacterial pathogens in human head lice

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