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Oriental Rat Flea Infected with Plague

Oriental Rat Flea Infected with Plague STEM Medicine Education

This image, of an oriental rat flea (Xenopsylla cheopis) infected with Yersinia pestis (the bacteria causing pneumonic and bubonic plague), shows the disease at work within the flea's body.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Laboratory of Zoonotic Pathogens - provides a further description of this disease-ridden flea:

Xenopsylla cheopis flea infected with Yersinia pestis, shown as a dark mass.  The foregut of this flea is blocked by a Y. pestis biofilm, which is a prerequisite for efficient transmission.  

In other words ... Yersinia pestis blocks food from entering the flea's stomach, making the flea more and more hungry.  When a rat flea infected with the plague is hungry, it will bite more and more animals and/or humans as it tries to satisfy its hunger.  Biting more and more humans and animals means that the flea keeps spreading the plague bacteria.


Media Credits

Image online, courtesy National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Laboratory of Zoonotic Pathogens.

 

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"Oriental Rat Flea Infected with Plague" AwesomeStories.com. Dec 05, 2014. Jun 25, 2019.
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