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white-throated wood rat
A white-throated woodrat, Neotoma albigula, in its Southwestern arid habitat. This, and other woodrat species, harbor fleas known to carry Yersinia pestis bacteria, which may be transmitted to human beings through flea bites. Credit: CDC

Yersinia pestis bacteria are found in animals throughout the world, most commonly in rats but occasionally in other wild animals, such as prairie dogs. Most cases of human plague are caused by bites of infected animals or the infected fleas that feed on them. In almost all cases, only the pneumonic form of plague can be passed from person to person.

Last Updated January 13, 2015

Last Reviewed January 13, 2015