CDC researchers have found that there were different
socioeconomic factors associated with the plague in New Mexico in the 1980s vs.
In the 1980s, plague was more likely in census block
groups that had poor housing conditions and high proportions of the population
living near or below the poverty line. In the 1990s, plague was more associated
with higher median incomes and home values. By the 2000s, plague was associated
with wealthier census block groups and newer homes.
Poor socioeconomic status has been anecdotally
associated with human plague cases, but this factor has rarely been
investigated quantitatively in the United States and such information has not
been systematically collected for cases of Yersinia pestis
infection, the researchers wrote. Identifying human socioeconomic
or behavioral risk factors may enable a more refined definition of the highest
risk populations for more targeted control efforts.
The analysis consisted of 123 of 162 cases of plague in
New Mexico from 1976 to 2007. The researchers chose census block groups that
had similar population densities to plague-positive census block groups. The
study period was divided into three time frames: 1976 to 1985 using 1980 census
data; 1986 to 1995 using 1990 census data; and 1996 to 2007 using 2000 census
data. Socioeconomic conditions for each census block group were identified for
each time period.
There was a change in the distribution of plague cases
throughout Mexico. In the 1980s, plague cases were scattered throughout the
state and common in the region of McKinley and Cibola counties in the
northwestern part of the state. By the 1990s, plague cases were more focused in
the Santa Fe-Albuquerque area in the north-central part of the state.
We were unable to determine whether the
socioeconomic status of individual plague-case patients has changed from poor
to middle or upper-income classes, the researchers wrote. Future
investigations are needed to characterize the characteristics and behaviors of
persons to verify and fully understand the changing factors associated with
plague cases in New Mexico.
Schotthoefer AM. Emerg Infect Dis.
The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.