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A Branco Weiss Fellow, the human flea, the plague and a travel award

29.11.2021 11:59

Branco Weiss Fellow Adelaide Miarinjara has been awarded a Centennial Travel Award by the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH). ASTMH is giving away this grant to physicians and scientists who’s work benefit underserved populations in locations in the world where the burden of disease is high. Recipients receive $25,000 in support for a six-month research experience in the tropics. Dr. Miarinjara will use her award to study the human flea and its transmission of the plague bacterium in her home country of Madagascar. Madagascar has the most declared cases of plague in the world today.

For Bug Bitten, a blog for the parasite and vector-borne diseases community, hosted by the journal Parasites and Vectors, Adelaide Miarinjara has recently written an article worth reading titled “Chasing after the human flea, a controversial bubonic plague vector”. The article describes her work in Madagascar and the ongoing discussion of the role of the human flea (Pulex irritans) in distributing the plague bacterium Yersinia pestis.

Dr. Miarinjara has herself recently published a paper on the human flea’s ability to transmit Y. pestis. Together with her co-authors she could demonstrate that Pulex irritans is indeed a poor vector compared to rodent flea species. These results cast doubt on the importance of P. irritans in driving human plague epidemics unless the flea burden were extremely high throughout a human population. Further work is needed to investigate the ecology of this flea species and its potential epidemiological importance.

Read the news on the ASTMH website

Read the blog post on Bug Bitten

Read the paper in Parasites & Vectors