alexa Transmission efficiency of two flea species (Oropsylla tuberculata cynomuris and Oropsylla hirsuta) involved in plague epizootics among prairie dogs.


Journal of Antivirals & Antiretrovirals

Author(s): Wilder AP, Eisen RJ, Bearden SW, Montenieri JA, Tripp DW,

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Abstract Plague, caused by Yersinia pestis, is an exotic disease in North America circulating predominantly in wild populations of rodents and their fleas. Black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) are highly susceptible to infection, often experiencing mortality of nearly all individuals in a town as a result of plague. The fleas of black-tailed prairie dogs are Oropsylla tuberculata cynomuris and Oropsylla hirsuta. We tested the efficiency of O. tuberculata cynomuris to transmit Y. pestis daily from 24 to 96 h postinfection and compared it to previously collected data for O. hirsuta. We found that O. tuberculata cynomuris has over threefold greater transmission efficiency (0.18 infected fleas transmit Y. pestis at 24 h postinfection) than O. hirsuta (0.05 fleas transmit). Using a simple model of flea-borne transmission, we combine these laboratory measurements with field data on monthly flea loads to compare the seasonal vectorial capacity of these two flea species. Coinciding with seasonal patterns of flea abundance, we find a peak in potential for flea-borne transmission in March, during high O. tuberculata cynomuris abundance, and in September-October when O. hirsuta is common. Our findings may be useful in determining the timing of insecticidal dusting to slow plague transmission in black-tailed prairie dogs. This article was published in Ecohealth and referenced in Journal of Antivirals & Antiretrovirals

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