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They discover that human body lice are powerful transmitters of the plague

They discover that human body lice are powerful transmitters of the plague

A team of American researchers has discovered that lice that affect the body (other than those in the head) contribute more powerfully than previously thought to the transmission of bacterium cause of the plague.

The finding, reported this Tuesday in the journal Plos Biology, has been carried out by researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the United States, in the state of Montana, and shows that the influence of these lice in past pandemics can be more important than previously believed.

The bacteria ‘Yersinia pestis’ has been responsible for numerous plague pandemics throughout history, such as the Black Death that decimated the population of Europe in the Middle Ages.

Until now, it was thought that rats and fleas, through bites, were the main vectors of transmission to humans, but the authors of this research have seen that human body lice bites can also have a very relevant role. in the transmission of the pathogen that causes plague.

To do this, they carried out a series of laboratory experiments in which they fed lice blood samples containing the bacteria. ‘Yersinia pestis’.

They then placed them on an artificial membrane, which simulated warm human skin, to test the potential for transmission in a laboratory environment.

The experiment showed how the bacteria ‘Yersinia pestis’ can infect a pair of salivary glands found in body lice, known as Pawlowsky’s glands, causing the transmission of the plague pathogen to people, through the bite. , was more powerful.

“We have discovered that human body lice are better transmitters of Yersinia pestis than previously thought and that they could have played a role in previous plague outbreaks”emphasizes one of the authors, David Bland, a researcher at the aforementioned center.

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Source: Gestion

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