DR TONY BRAIN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR TONY BRAIN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Rat flea. Coloured scanning electron micrograph of the rat flea Xenopsylla cheopis seen here clinging to the fur of a rat. The rat flea plays a major role in the spread of Yersinia pestis, the bacterium which causes bubonic plague (the Black Death of the Middle Ages). The bacterium is carried by the rat flea, which in turn infests the domestic and brown rats which live closely with humans. Extensive control measures, directed against the rats and fleas, have essentially banished the plague from Europe, but there are still many regions of the world where the disease occurs and, at intervals, breaks out in an epidemic. Magnification: x63 at 6x7cm size.
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