Effects of land use on plague (Yersinia pestis) activity in rodents in Tanzania.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.4269/ajtmh.14-0504
Understanding the effects of land-use change on zoonotic disease risk is a pressing global health concern. Here, we compare prevalence of Yersinia pestis, the etiologic agent of plague, in rodents across two land-use types-agricultural and conserved-in northern Tanzania. Estimated abundance of seropositive rodents nearly doubled in agricultural sites compared with conserved sites. This relationship between land-use type and abundance of seropositive rodents is likely mediated by changes in rodent and flea community composition, particularly via an increase in the abundance of the commensal species, Mastomys natalensis, in agricultural habitats. There was mixed support for rodent species diversity negatively impacting Y. pestis seroprevalence. Together, these results suggest that land-use change could affect the risk of local transmission of plague, and raise critical questions about transmission dynamics at the interface of conserved and agricultural habitats. These findings emphasize the importance of understanding disease ecology in the context of rapidly proceeding landscape change.