Seroprevalence and spatial distribution dynamics of Yersinia pestis antibodies in dogs and cats from plague foci in the State of Ceará, Northeastern Brazil

<div><p>Abstract INTRODUCTION: In Brazil, the plague is established in several foci located mainly in the northeastern part of the country, where it alternates between active and quiescent periods. These foci in the State of Ceará have high epidemiological importance. In addition to other plague detection activities, plague areas can be monitored through serological surveys of dogs and cats (domestic carnivores), which, following feeding on plague-infected rodents, can develop mild to severe forms of the disease and produce long-lasting antibodies. This study aimed to characterize the circulation dynamics and spatial distribution of Yersinia pestis antibodies in dogs and cats in plague foci areas of Ceará. METHODS: An ecological study was conducted to analyze the temporal series and spatial distribution of secondary data obtained from domestic carnivore serum surveillance in Ceará’s plague areas from 1990 to 2014. RESULTS: Joinpoint analysis revealed that the overall trend was a reduction in antibody-positive animals. The mean proportion of antibody-positivity during the whole study period was 1.5% (3,023/203,311) for dogs, and 0.7% (426/61,135) for cats, with more than 4% antibody-positivity in dogs in 1997 and 2002. Antibody titers ranging from 1/16 to 1/64 were frequent. Despite fluctuations and a significant reduction, in recent years, there were antibody-positive animals annually throughout the study period, and the localities containing antibody-positive animals increased in number. CONCLUSION: Yersinia pestis is actively circulating in the study areas, posing a danger to the human population.</p></div>