Rodent control to fight plague: field assessment of methods based on rat density reduction

Soanandrasana Rahelinirina* (Corresponding Author), Kathryn Scobie, Beza Ramasindrazana, Voahangy Andrianaivoarimanana, Fanohinjanaharinirina Rasoamalala, Lovasoa Nomena Randriantseheno, Jerry Sylvio Rakotoniaina, Olivier Gorgé, Xavier Lambin, Eric Valade, Sandra Telfer, Minoarisoa Rajerison

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Rodents represent a serious threat to food security and public health. The extent to which rodent control can mitigate the risk from rodent-borne disease depends on both the effectiveness of control in reducing rodent abundance and the impact on disease epidemiology. Focusing on a plague-endemic region of Madagascar, this study compared the effectiveness of 3 methods: live-traps, snap-traps, and rodenticides. Control interventions were implemented inside houses between May and October 2019. Tracking tiles monitored rodent abundance. Rodent fleas, the vector involved in plague transmission, were collected. Rodent populations consisted of Rattus rattus and Mus musculus. In terms of trap success, we found that our live-trap regime was more effective than snap-traps. While all 3 control strategies appeared to reduce in-house rodent activity in the short term, we found no evidence of a longer-term effect, with in-house rodent abundance in treated sites comparable to non-treatment sites by the following month. Endemic flea, Synopsyllus fonquerniei, is a key plague vector usually found on rats living outdoors. Although we found no evidence that its abundance inside houses increased following control, this may have been due to a lack of power caused by significant variation in S. fonquerniei abundance. The presence of S. fonquerniei in houses was more likely when S. fonquerniei abundance on outdoor rats was higher, which in turn correlated with high rat abundance. Our results emphasize that control strategies need to consider this connectivity between in-house rat-flea populations and the outdoor populations, and any potential consequences for plague transmission.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)868-885
Number of pages18
JournalIntegrative zoology
Issue number6
Early online date30 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021


  • fleas
  • Madagascar
  • plague
  • rodents
  • surveillance


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