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Plague  Lesson 7
 Veterinarian Issues

Rodents, Rabbits, and Others

  • Rodents or rabbits that are kept as pets are likely to be susceptible to plague and, once infected with Y. pestis, could serve as sources of infection for humans who handle these animals.
  • The most likely scenario for the spread of disease in a bioterrorist event would be during an indoor aerosol release. Rodent populations would be expected to become infected through inhalation of the aerosol or by eating contaminated foods within a few hours of release. This would result in a rapid spread in the rodent population. As the rodents died, their fleas would jump hosts and be capable of infecting other animals and humans.
  • Domestic ferrets appear to be relatively resistant to plague when inoculated subcutaneously, but their susceptibility to respiratory routes of infection has not been examined.
  • Birds, reptiles and fish are considered to be completely resistant to Y. pestis infection.
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Gecko's are resistant to plague.

Ferrets are possibly resistant to plague.
Possibly Resistant


Rabbits are not plague resistant.
Not Resistant

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Page last reviewed February 12, 2007
Page last modified September 7, 2004

  • Content source: CDC Emergency Risk Communication Branch (ERCB), Division of Emergency Operations (DEO), National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID)
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