Prevalence and Incidence of Plague


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About prevalence and incidence statistics: The term 'prevalence' of Plague usually refers to the estimated population of people who are managing Plague at any given time. The term 'incidence' of Plague refers to the annual diagnosis rate, or the number of new cases of Plague diagnosed each year. Hence, these two statistics types can differ: a short-lived disease like flu can have high annual incidence but low prevalence, but a life-long disease like diabetes has a low annual incidence but high prevalence. For more information see about prevalence and incidence statistics.

Incidence (annual) of Plague: 9 annual cases of plague notified in USA 1999 (MMWR 1999)
Incidence Rate: approx 1 in 30,222,221 or 0.00% or 9 people in USA [about data]
Prevalance of Plague: In the U.S., 1 to 40 cases reported annually (avg = 13 cases) by western states, 1971-1995
  • Worldwide, 2861 cases reported by 10 countries to WHO in 1995

    SEQUELAE

    • Rare, consequences of disseminated intravascular coagulation, lung damage
    • Mortality 50-90% if untreated; 15% when diagnosed and treated

    COSTS

    • Not known

    TRANSMISSION

    • Flea-borne, from infected rodents to humans
    • Direct contact with infected tissues or fluids from handling sick or dead animals
    • Respiratory droplets from cats and humans with pneumonic plague

    RESERVOIRS

    • Primarily wild rodents in U.S. (especially rock squirrels, ground squirrels, prairie dogs, other burrowing rodents)
    • Commensal rats may be important elsewhere

    RISK GROUPS

    • In the U.S., persons exposed to rodent fleas, wild rodents, or other susceptible animals in enzootic areas of western states
    • Most cases occur in southwestern states of NM, AZ, CO, and in CA
    • Highest rates in Native Americans, especially Navajos; other risk groups: hunters; veterinarians and pet owners handling infected cats; campers or hikers entering areas with outbreaks of animal plague

    SURVEILLANCE

    • National Notifiable Disease Surveillance System (NNDSS) for animal plague surveillance, for reports of human cases, and laboratory testing of fleas, animal tissues and serum specimens, and serosurveys of carnivores
    • CDC, Fort Collins, is a WHO Collaborating Center for Reference and Research on Plague Control, and reports all human plague cases in the U.S. to WHO

    OPPORTUNITIES

    • Increased self-sufficiency of state and county public health labs
    • Expanded active surveillance through carnivore serosurveys and application of geographic information systems (GIS) to surveillance programs
    • Increased education of public and health professionals
    • Collaborative applied research on plague prevention and control with other federal, state, and local health agencies, including application of GIS to surveillance

    RESEARCH

    • Ecology-based prevention and control strategies
    • Improved diagnostic reagents and methods
    • Development of potential vaccine candidates
    • Risk factor identification using landscape ecology and epidemiology
       

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    This page last reviewed June 22, 2001

    | Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases  |
    National Center for Infectious Diseases |
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention |
    P.
    1 ... Annually, 1­40 cases of plague were reported (average 13 cases) by western states in 1971­1995.2
    Worldwide prevalence of Plague:Globally, the World Health Organization reports 1,000 to 3,000 cases of plague every year.3

    Prevelance of Plague discussion: In the United States, the last urban plague epidemic occurred in Los Angeles in 1924-25. Since then, human plague in the United States has occurred as mostly scattered cases in rural areas (an average of 10 to 15 persons each year). Globally, the World Health Organization reports 1,000 to 3,000 cases of plague every year. In North America, plague is found in certain animals and their fleas from the Pacific Coast to the Great Plains, and from southwestern Canada to Mexico. Most human cases in the United States occur in two regions: 1) northern New Mexico, northern Arizona, and southern Colorado; and 2) California, southern Oregon, and far western Nevada. Plague also exists in Africa, Asia, and South America (see map). 3

    Incidence statistics about Plague: The following statistics relate to the incidence of Plague:

    • 0 new cases of plague per 100,000 population was notified in Australia 2002 (Yohannes K, Roche P, Blumer C et al. 2004, Australia’s Health 2004, AIHW)
    • 0 new cases of plague was notified in Australia 2002 (Yohannes K, Roche P, Blumer C et al. 2004, Australia’s Health 2004, AIHW)
    • 10 registered cases in Peru 2001 (Regional Core Health Data Initiative, Pan American Health Organisation, 2003)
    • 2 registered cases in the US 2001 (Regional Core Health Data Initiative, Pan American Health Organisation, 2003)
    • 2 registered cases in Brazil 2000 (Regional Core Health Data Initiative, Pan American Health Organisation, 2003)


    Footnotes:
    1. excerpt from Plague Epidemiology: DVBID_1
    2. excerpt from Facts About Plague: CDC-OC
    3. excerpt from CDC Plague Home Page: DVBID

    Last revision: June 10, 2003

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