Free Access
Vet. Res.
Volume 40, Number 2, March-April 2009
Adaptative strategies of vector-borne pathogens to vectorial transmission
Number of page(s) 14
Published online 23 September 2008
How to cite this article Vet. Res. (2009) 40:01
How to cite this article: Vet. Res. (2009) 40:01
DOI: 10.1051/vetres:2008039


Adaptive strategies of Yersinia pestis to persist during inter-epizootic and epizootic periods

Rebecca J. Eisen and Kenneth L. Gage

Bacterial Diseases Branch, Division of Vector Borne Infectious Diseases, National Center for Zoonotic, Enteric and Vector-Borne Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3150 Rampart Road, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA

Received 16 June 2008; accepted 18 September 2008; published online 23 September 2008

Abstract - Plague is a flea-borne zoonotic bacterial disease caused by Yersinia pestis. It has caused three historical pandemics, including the Black Death which killed nearly a third of Europe's population in the 14th century. In modern times, plague epizootics can extirpate entire susceptible wildlife populations and then disappear for long time periods. Understanding how Y. pestis is maintained during inter-epizootic periods and the factors responsible for transitioning to epizootics is important for preventing and controlling pathogen transmission and ultimately reducing the burden of human disease. In this review, we focus primarily on plague in North American foci and discuss the potential adaptive strategies Y. pestis might employ to ensure not only its survival during inter-epizootic periods but also the rapid epizootic spread and invasion of new territories that are so characteristic of plague and have resulted in major pandemics and establishment of plague foci throughout much of the world.

Key words: plague / Yersinia pestis / flea / epizootic

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© INRA, EDP Sciences 2008