Research Article

Bartonella species in bat flies (Diptera: Nycteribiidae) from western Africa

S. A. BILLETERa1, D. T. S. HAYMANa2a3a4, A. J. PEELa3a4, K. BAKERa3a4, J. L. N. WOODa3, A. CUNNINGHAMa4, R. SUU-IREa5, K. DITTMARa6 and M. Y. KOSOYa1 c1

a1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Vector Borne Diseases, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA

a2 Rabies and Wildlife Zoonoses Group, Veterinary Laboratories Agency-Weybridge, Surrey, UK

a3 Cambridge Infectious Diseases Consortium, Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK

a4 Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, London NW1 4RY, UK

a5 Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission, Accra, Ghana

a6 State University of New York at Buffalo, Department of Biological Sciences, Buffalo, New York, USA


Bat flies are obligate ectoparasites of bats and it has been hypothesized that they may be involved in the transmission of Bartonella species between bats. A survey was conducted to identify whether Cyclopodia greefi greefi (Diptera: Nycteribiidae) collected from Ghana and 2 islands in the Gulf of Guinea harbour Bartonella. In total, 137 adult flies removed from Eidolon helvum, the straw-coloured fruit bat, were screened for the presence of Bartonella by culture and PCR analysis. Bartonella DNA was detected in 91 (66·4%) of the specimens examined and 1 strain of a Bartonella sp., initially identified in E. helvum blood from Kenya, was obtained from a bat fly collected in Ghana. This is the first study, to our knowledge, to report the identification and isolation of Bartonella in bat flies from western Africa.

(Received July 20 2011)

(Revised October 14 2011)

(Revised October 24 2011)

(Accepted October 27 2011)

(Online publication February 06 2012)


c1 Corresponding author: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Vector Borne Diseases, 3150 Rampart Road, Fort Collins, CO 80521, USA. Tel: +970 266 3522. Fax: +970 225 4257. E-mail: