Yersinia pestis infection risk factors

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: João André Alves Silva, M.D. [2]


Risk factors for plague include living in rural areas, near animals such as rodents, or in houses where sanitation is poor. People who deal frequently with animals, such as veterinaries, are at higher risk for infection with Yersinia pestis.

Risk Factors

The most important factor associated with the development of plague is the exposure to infected fleas where local rodents are transmitting infection. In the United States, the highest risk of acquiring Yersinia pestis is between February and August (plague season), which corresponds to the timing of the rodent epidemics. Death of the affected rodents is also correlated with better fertility of rodent fleas which are the main vectors for the disease.[1] Other important risk factors for infection by Yersinia pestis include:[2][1]

  • Living in endemic areas especially in warm climates
  • Poor sanitation and living conditions
  • Unsettled conditions of war and relocation of refugees
  • People who handle infected animals (veterinaries)
  • People who come in contact with infected animals (hunting, or camping)


  1. 1.0 1.1 Butler T (2009). "Plague into the 21st century". Clin Infect Dis. 49 (5): 736–42. doi:10.1086/604718. PMID 19606935.
  2. World Health Organization (1999). "Plague Manual: Epidemiology, Distribution, Surveillance and Control". WHO/CDS/CSR/EDC (27).

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