[Resurgence of the plague in the Ikongo district of Madagascar in 1998. 2. Reservoirs and vectors implicated]

Bull Soc Pathol Exot. 2001 May;94(2):119-22.
[Article in French]


Our survey of mammals and fleas arose as a result of an outbreak of bubonic plague at an usually low altitude in the Ikongo district (Madagascar), while a previous study had found anti-F1 antibodies in an endemic hedgehog. Animals were sampled with live traps in two hamlets (Antanambao-Vohidrotra, 540 m alt. and Ambalagoavy, 265 m alt.) and with pitfall traps in a neighbouring forest (750 m alt.). Rat fleas were collected by brushing the fur and free-living fleas by use of light traps. The introduced shrew Suncus murinus was found only in the village of Ambalagoavy while the black rat (Rattus rattus) was found in all three sites and the only seropositive rat was caught at Antanambao-Vohidrotra. In contrast, among the Tenrecidae (endemic shrews and hedgehogs) found in the forest near the first village, four animals were found seropositive for anti-F1 antibodies. One of them was carrying the endemic flea Paractenopsyllus pauliani, not yet reported as a vector of plague. The endemic vector of plague, Synopsyllus fonquerniei, was found only in the first village of Antanambao-Vohidrotra, and the cosmopolite flea Xenopsylla cheopis only in Ambalagoavy. Although no Yersinia pestis could be isolated and no F1-antigen could be detected in these animals, we found evidence of the recent transmission of plague in Antanambao-Vohidrotra and the nearby forest, but not in Ambalagoavy. These data corroborate with the sylvatic plague cycle hypothesis in Madagascar and its involvement in the outcome of the bubonic plague outbreak in this district.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Disease Reservoirs*
  • Disease Vectors*
  • Hedgehogs / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Madagascar / epidemiology
  • Muridae / microbiology
  • Plague / epidemiology*
  • Plague / transmission
  • Rats
  • Shrews / microbiology
  • Siphonaptera / microbiology
  • Yersinia pestis / immunology


  • Antibodies, Bacterial