Author(s): Schmid BV, Jesse M, Wilschut LI, Viljugrein H, Heesterbeek JA
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Abstract Speculation on how the bacterium Yersinia pestis re-emerges after years of absence in the Prebalkhash region in Kazakhstan has been ongoing for half a century, but the mechanism is still unclear. One of the theories is that plague persists in its reservoir host (the great gerbil) in so-called hotspots, i.e. small regions in which the conditions remain favourable for plague to persist during times where the conditions in the Prebalkhash region as a whole have become unfavourable for plague persistence. In this paper we use a metapopulation model that describes the dynamics of the great gerbil. With this model we study the minimum size of an individual hotspot and the combined size of multiple hotspots in the Prebalkhash region that would be required for Y. pestis to persist through an inter-epizootic period. We show that the combined area of hotspots required for plague persistence is so large that it would be unlikely to have been missed by existing plague surveillance. This suggests that persistence of plague in that region cannot solely be explained by the existence of hotspots, and therefore other hypotheses, such as survival in multiple host species, and persistence in fleas or in the soil should be considered as well. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Epidemics
and referenced in Journal of Antivirals & Antiretrovirals