According to a recent study, New York City rats are hosts for fleas that carry the plague.
The findings of the new study were published in the Journal of Medical Entomology.
The scientists found that the rats hiding in the sewers of New York City since the 1920s have been carrying fleas that can spread the plague.
Matthey Frye, one of the researchers involved in the study, explained that if these NYC rats are hosting fleas that can infect people with the plague, then the only thing that is missing from the transmission cycle is actually the plague pathogen itself.
The researcher notes that not all the fleas can transmit plague to humans. The species of flea responsible for spreading the Black Death is actually the Oriental rat flea, which is believed to have caused most of the plague epidemics.
For the new study, the scientists analyzed more than 133 New York City rats. The analysis revealed that the rats carried more than 6,500 species of fleas and mites and 550 of them were Oriental rat fleas.
Apart from discovering that some of the fleas carry the plague pathogens, the researchers found that many of the New York City rats are hosting a large number of bacteria and diseases that could infect the human population.
Reports show that there are approximately 10 cases of bubonic plague in the United States annually. According to the experts, the cases are caused by infected fleas carried by prairie dogs and squirrels.
The authors of the study note that health officials should start monitoring the city rats and the fleas they are carrying. Also, people should take serious measures to prevent rats from entering their homes. Integrated Pest Management practices should be implemented, such as removing food and water from the vicinity of the homes.
According to Fry, when people evict rats from homes or workplaces, aside from Integrated Pest Management practices, we should also make sure that there is a careful sanitation.
Building must get rid of disease-carrying insects like fleas, mites and lice because they can easily infect our bodies.
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