Researchers at SUNY Downstate Medical Center have identified and mapped areas of high probability of plague bacteria in the western United States. Their findings were published in a recent edition of the journal, PeerJ.
This investigation predicted animal plague occurrence across western states based on reported occurrences of plague in sylvan (wild) and domestic animal hosts. Plague is a disease caused by Yersinia pestis, a bacterium found in rodents and their fleas in many areas around the world.
“This study used surveillance data of plague in wild and domestic animals in the American West to identify and map those areas with the greatest potential for human exposure to this infection, which can be particularly deadly when transmitted to humans,” said Michael Walsh, PhD, MPH,
assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics in the School of Public Health at SUNY Downstate.
“The findings can be used by public health agencies to target specific areas for enhanced plague surveillance within areas and counties predicted to be at high risk, as well as by other research teams to direct the sampling of local wildlife populations for the identification of Yersinia pestis in wild animals that find themselves in close proximity to humans and human developed landscapes,” he added.