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A 21-year-old member asked:

Can all fleas potentially carry the plague bacteria?

2 doctor answers8 doctors weighed in
Dr. Robert Kwok
Pediatrics 34 years experience
Probably yes: Rats, prairie dogs, chipmunks, squirrels, deer mice, etc..., and the fleas of all these animals can carry the plague. Other animals, such as rabbits, also can have the plague. After pet cats and dogs catch the plague, their fleas can become infected and transmit the bacteria also.
Dr. Pamela Pappas
Psychiatry 43 years experience
I read the question differently from you, since not all fleas have been exposed to Yersinia pestis. So some fleas could not transmit the illness.
Jan 4, 2014
Dr. Pamela Pappas
Psychiatry 43 years experience
No: Only fleas which have been exposed to rats or other animals infected with the plague bacteria (Yersinia pestis) can transmit it to humans. Y. pestis colonizes the flea's gut, replicates, and blocks the flea's gut. The fleas then feed voraciously, regurgitating the bacteria into the bite. Only a few organisms are required to pass on the infection. Most cases have been in in CA, AZ, NM, & CO.

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Last updated Nov 24, 2014
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