Plague reservoir species throughout the world

Integr Zool. 2021 Nov;16(6):820-833. doi: 10.1111/1749-4877.12511. Epub 2020 Dec 24.


Plague has been known since ancient times as a re-emerging infectious disease, causing considerable socioeconomic burden in regional hotspots. To better understand the epidemiological cycle of the causative agent of the plague, its potential occurrence, and possible future dispersion, one must carefully consider the taxonomy, distribution, and ecological requirements of reservoir-species in relation either to natural or human-driven changes (e.g. climate change or urbanization). In recent years, the depth of knowledge on species taxonomy and species composition in different landscapes has undergone a dramatic expansion, driven by modern taxonomic methods such as synthetic surveys that take into consideration morphology, genetics, and the ecological setting of captured animals to establish their species identities. Here, we consider the recent taxonomic changes of the rodent species in known plague reservoirs and detail their distribution across the world, with a particular focus on those rodents considered to be keystone host species. A complete checklist of all known plague-infectable vertebrates living in plague foci is provided as a Supporting Information table.

Keywords: mammals; plague; reservoirs; rodents; taxonomy.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Distribution
  • Animals
  • Disease Reservoirs / veterinary*
  • Global Health*
  • Plague / epidemiology*
  • Rodent Diseases / epidemiology
  • Rodent Diseases / microbiology*
  • Rodentia*
  • Yersinia pestis*