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Bubonic bottleneck: UNC scientists overturn dogma on the plague

The current outbreak of the plague in Madagascar shines a light on the need for new approaches to treat the ancient pathogen. A new study unexpectedly unravels a long-held theory on how a fleabite leads to infection.

Yersinia pestis in the Lymph Node
Researchers discover that the accepted theory of how Yersinia pestis microbes travel from fleabite to lymph node is off base. Most bacteria get trapped in a bottleneck and never make it to the lymph node, where infection takes root. Finding out why could lead to new ways to stop the pathogen.
Credit: Miller Lab / UNC School of Medicine


The and the Robert D. Watkins Fellowship from American Society for Microbiology funded this research.

University of North Carolina Health Care