Yersinia pestis (Bubonic Plague)

The Pathogen

Yersinia pestis is a Gram-negative, rod-shaped, non-spore-forming bacterium responsible for causing pneumonic, septicemic and the much-feared bubonic plague. Y. pestis has been responsible for millions of human deaths throughout history, most notably an estimated 75 million people in 14th century Europe, or 30-60 percent of the European population.

The World Health Organization reports 1,000-3,000 cases of plague are reported annually around the world. Approximately 10-20 of those cases occur in the U.S. The inherent virulence factors of bubonic plague suppress and bypass normal immune system responses, allowing for the proliferation of bacteria and systemic invasion of the host, resulting in death.

Bubonic plague invokes great anxiety to this day, and carries with it the potential to incite massive worldwide panic, regardless of the many scientific and medical advancements made since the time of the Black Death. It is classified as a Category A biological pathogen by the CDC, due to ease of transmission from person-to-person, its high mortality rate and the potential to cause mass casualties if utilized in a biological attack.

The Problem

Diagnosis and treatment of Y. pestis is challenging, as initial symptoms are very similar to those other diseases. This can complicate and delay diagnosis; a dangerous combination for a pathogenic bacteria that takes only 4 days to kill its host. Furthermore, emerging multi-drug-resistant strains of Y. pestis hold the potential to impede eradication of the bacteria and increase morality rates. Antibiotic-resistant strains pose an obvious threat to treatment of this serious bacteria and the likelihood for greatly increased mortality rates in the event of a pandemic or biological attack.

Testing for Y. pestis can take up to 72 hours via traditional live-cell testing. However, faster testing methods are urgently needed due to the rapid progression of the plague and ease of person-to-person transmission. Though several varieties of PCR have been developed to improve the rapid detection of bubonic plague, the disadvantages are clear: costly DNA extraction is still required and such tests as PCR are unable to confirm the viabilty of a bacteria in a sample.

The NanoLogix Solution - Live-threat microorganism detection in 24 hours

Without treatment, the mortality rate for Y. pestis is about 50-90 percent. However, the rate is cut to appoximately 1-15 percent with treatment. This makes the rapid detection and identification of Yersinia pestis critical in providing effective treatment and homeland security protection.

Whereas, conventional Petri tests return results in 72 hours, NanoLogix technology provides rapid detection and identification of live-threat Yersinia pestis cells in as little as 24 hours with the Bionanopore (BNP) technology and less than one hour  Bionanofilter (BNF). Y. pestis is often fatal within 96 hours, so the ability to detect the pathogen three times faster gives physicians an additional three days to fight the pathogen and save a patient’s life. Using conventional Petri technology, physicians only have one day.