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Small-Scale Die-Offs in Woodrats Support Long-Term Maintenance of Plague in the U.S. Southwest
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  • Alternative Title:
    Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis
  • Description:
    Our longitudinal study of plague dynamics was conducted in north-central New Mexico to identify which species in the community were infected with plague, to determine the spatial and temporal patterns of the dynamics of plague epizootics, and to describe the dynamics of Yersinia pestis infection within individual hosts. A total of 3156 fleas collected from 535 small mammals of 8 species were tested for Y. pestis DNA. Nine fleas collected from six southern plains woodrats (Neotoma micropus) and from one rock squirrel (Otospermophilus variegatus) were positive for the pla gene of Y. pestis. None of 127 fleas collected from 17 woodrat nests was positive. Hemagglutinating antibodies to the Y. pestis-specific F1 antigen were detected in 11 rodents of 6 species. All parts of the investigated area were subjected to local disappearance of woodrats. Despite the active die-offs, some woodrats always were present within the relatively limited endemic territory and apparently were never exposed to plague. Our observations suggest that small-scale die-offs in woodrats can support maintenance of plague in the active U.S. Southwestern focus.
  • Pubmed ID:
    28792853
  • Pubmed Central ID:
    PMC5576196
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