Researchers Discover Rat Fleas May Carry Plague On NYC/Jersey Rodents

Researchers discover Oriental rat fleas, the pests which may carry plague germs, on New York City/New Jersey-dwelling rodents.

But scientists have found a secret harbored from the omnipresent rodents; a number of New Jersey and New York City's rats possess Asian rat fleas (Xenopsylla cheopis), that are known to take plague germs (Yersinia pestis) and other germs.

A group of entomologists, virologists, and immunologists trapped 133 Norway rats at Manhattan within a 10-month interval and captured that the insects, arachnids, and pathogenic bacteria linked to the rodents. About 6,500 parasites have been discovered on the rodents, such as many mite species, including some louse species, and rat fleas. The group, led by researchers in New York and New Jersey, released its results per week (March 2) at the Journal of Medical Entomology. The investigators did find that a few distinct bacterial species in genus Bartonella, which may lead to disease in people, but they found neither the bacterium bacterium nor the germs which can result in murine typhus.

"If those rats carry fleas which could transmit the jolt to humans, then the pathogen itself is the only bit missing out of the transmission ," Cornell entomologist Matthew Frye, who led the job, stated in a press launch .

The analysis follows on findings released last year October, when investigators including research coauthor Ian Lipkin of Columbia University--discovered 18 viruses which were new to science lurking inside the city's rats. This is the very first time, but that scientists have discovered the flea species known to take plague germs in New York City rats.

"Given its international supply, I'm surprised that the rat flea (Xenopsylla cheopis) was gathered, although it was interesting that it was the sole species of flea discovered," Kaylee Byers, an entomologist at the University of British Columbia who did not take part in the research, informed The Verge.

Frye advised that the Verge that lots of the pathogens which their related parasites carry are readily treated with antibiotics which didn't exist centuries past. "We would not find the Black Death--the hysteria which includes it," he explained.