Local-scale diversity of Yersinia pestis: A case study from Ambohitromby, Ankazobe District, Madagascar

Beza Ramasindrazana, Mamionah N.J. Parany, Fanohinjanaharinirina Rasoamalala, Mercia Rasoanoro, Soloandry Rahajandraibe, Amy J. Vogler, Jason W. Sahl, Voahangy Andrianaivoarimanana, Minoarisoa Rajerison, David M. Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Plague is a re-emerging zoonotic disease and a major public health concern in several portions of the world, especially in Madagascar. We report on the presence of different subtypes of Yersinia pestis co-occurring in the same locality. After confirmation of a human plague case in Ambohitromby Commune (Ankazobe District) via isolation of Y. pestis, we undertook small mammal trapping to identify the circulation of Y. pestis amongst rodents in this locality; blood samples were collected from rodents for seroprevalence analysis. Of the 60 individuals of Rattus rattus captured, one yielded an isolate of Y. pestis, 13 others were positive for F1 antigen of Y. pestis using a rapid diagnostic test, and 4 were PCR positive targeting the caf1 and pla genes; 28/60 (46.7%) of the captured R. rattus were seropositive for Y. pestis. Whole-genome SNP analyses revealed that the two isolates obtained from the human case, and the R. rattus belonged to two different subtypes of Y. pestis (s05 and s13, respectively) that were circulating concurrently in Ambohitromby in 2016. Three Y. pestis subtypes (s03, s05 and s13) have now been isolated from Ambohitromby. Subtype s05 had been persisting there for >10 years but one or both of the other subtypes may have been introduced from the Central Highlands region as they were not observed in previous years (s13) or only observed once previously (s03). High seroprevalence against Y. pestis in R. rattus suggests that a portion of the local murine population may have acquired resistance to Y. pestis. Future research should focus on genomically characterizing Y. pestis strains circulating in Ankazobe District and other plague-endemic regions of Madagascar to better understand the overall phylogeography of Y. pestis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-70
Number of pages10
JournalZoonoses and Public Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Veterinary
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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