Louse illustration by Robert Hooke, Micrographia, 1667. (Public domain)
by Michelle Ziegler
The key to understanding plague — past, present, and future — has always been understanding its vector dynamics. By the latest tally, there are 269 known flea species, plus a small collection of ticks and lice, that can be infected with Yersinia pestis. With this many infected parasites, it’s not a surprise that 344 hosts have been identified (Dubyanskiy & Yeszhanov, 2016), but this list is still incomplete. (It does not include all of the minor hosts in North America.) Regardless, this is not a description of a picky pathogen! Unfortunately, it is far easier to identify infected hosts and potential vectors than to determine which of these insects are effective vectors and their transmission dynamics.
Numerous species of fleas have been identified as plague vectors in specific localities. However, only five infected potential human vectors are…
View original post 1,339 more words