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New Colorado State University research shows that plague bacteria, Yersinia pestis, not only survive, but thrive and replicate once ingested by an amoeba. The discovery could help scientists understand why plague outbreaks can smolder, stay dormant for years, and re-emerge with a vengeance.
The study in Emerging Infectious Diseases was led by David Markman, a Vice President for Research Fellow and Department of Biology graduate student working with Professor Michael Antolin. A former government researcher for malaria vaccines, Markman is investigating whether plague bacteria use amoebae as unwitting hosts to evade detection and multiply.
Research - Part - Effort - Mary - Jackson
The research is part of a larger effort led by Mary Jackson, professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology, to investigate various infectious diseases' interactions with amoebae, including bovine tuberculosis and melioidosis. The studies have been supported by a Vice President for Research initiative called One Health.
Plague, most famous for the Black Death of the 14th century, is alive today and is experiencing a re-emergence particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Colorado, animals including prairie dogs and black-footed ferrets carry fleas that host the bacteria. Outbreaks can wipe out whole prairie dog colonies, and humans or pets can also become infected.
Plague - Diseases - Dormant - Outbreak - Re-emerge
Plague, unlike many other infectious diseases, seems to go dormant after an outbreak and re-emerge via the same strains of bacteria, indicating that the bacteria have lain quiet, rather than mutating. Where they go during this quiet period has eluded scientists. Markman's study provides new support for...
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