Yersinia pestis (YP), the gram-negative plague bacterium, has shaped human history unlike any other pathogen known to mankind. YP (transmitted by the bite of an infected flea) diverged only recently from the related enteric pathogen Yersinia pseudotuberculosis but causes radically different diseases. Three forms of plague exist in humans: bubonic (swollen lymph nodes or bubos), septicemic (spread of YP through the lymphatics or bloodstream from the bubos to other organs), and contagious, pneumonic plague which can be communicated via YP-charged respiratory droplets resulting in person-person transmission and rapid death if left untreated (50-90% mortality). Despite the potential threat of weaponized YP being employed in bioterrorism and YP infections remaining prevalent in endemic regions of the world where rodent populations are high (including the four corner regions of the USA), an efficacious vaccine that confers immunoprotection has yet to be developed. This review article will describe the current vaccine candidates being evaluated in various model systems and provide an overall summary on the progress of this important endeavor.
- Pneumonic plague
- Yersinia pestis
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology