NATURAL HISTORY OF PLAGUE: Perspectives from More than a Century of Research

Author(s): Kenneth L. Gage and Michael Y. Kosoy

Publication: Annu. Rev. Entomology

Publication Date: 2005

Abstract: For more than a century, scientists have investigated the natural history of plague, a highly fatal disease caused by infection with the gram-negative bacterium Yersinia pestis. Among their most important discoveries were the zoonotic nature of the disease and that plague exists in natural cycles involving transmission between rodent hosts and flea vectors. Other significant findings include those on the evolution of Y. pestis; geographic variation among plague strains; the dynamics and maintenance of transmission cycles; mechanisms by which fleas transmit Y. pestis; resistance and susceptibility among plague hosts; the structure and typology of natural foci; and how landscape features influence the focality, maintenance, and spread of the disease. The knowledge gained from these studies is essential for the development of effective (s)prevention and control strategies.

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