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PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2011 Jan 4;5(1):e925. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0000925.

Ecology and geography of plague transmission areas in northeastern Brazil.

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Biodiversity Institute, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, United States of America.


Plague in Brazil is poorly known and now rarely seen, so studies of its ecology are difficult. We used ecological niche models of historical (1966-present) records of human plague cases across northeastern Brazil to assess hypotheses regarding environmental correlates of plague occurrences across the region. Results indicate that the apparently focal distribution of plague in northeastern Brazil is indeed discontinuous, and that the causes of the discontinuity are not necessarily only related to elevation-rather, a diversity of environmental dimensions correlate to presence of plague foci in the region. Perhaps most interesting is that suitable areas for plague show marked seasonal variation in photosynthetic mass, with peaks in April and May, suggesting links to particular land cover types. Next steps in this line of research will require more detailed and specific examination of reservoir ecology and natural history.

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