Yersinia pestis collection began back in 1966, along with the Plague Pilot Project in Exu (PPP) sponsored by the Brazilian government and the World Health Organization (WHO) developing a wide research program in the Araripe Plateau, in Pernambuco State, from July 1966 to November 1974. During this period, 661 Y. pestis strains were isolated from human cases, rodents and flea specimens. The collection was transferred to Research Center Aggeu Magalhães (CPqAM), FIOCRUZ - PE in 1982 and, up to 1997 it housed new isolates obtained during plague surveillance and control activities in focal areas, in Brazil.
Currently the collection consists of 917 Brazilian Y. pestis strains and 15 foreign Y. pestis strains isolated in the USA, Peru, Vietnam, Iran, Java, Burma provided by the Pasteur Institute in Paris (IPP / France), National Institute of Health (INS / Peru), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC / USA) and Cleveland University (USA). From these, a total of 121 Brazilian strains that are displayed in the strain catalog, were sub-typed by molecular techniques and preserved in BHI / glycerol 25% and kept at -80°C.
Due to Y. pestis classification as biological Risk Class 3 (WHO), and bioterrorism agent category A (CDC) the collection is kept at Biosafety Level 3 laboratory (BSL3) and only DNA from the strains is supplied. In addition, the collection provides services of Y. pestis identification and deposit, besides training and consulting.
The Fiocruz-CYP is institutionally recognized as a collection of service, research and reference. It is incorporated into the Plague Reference Service (SRP) of FIOCRUZ - PE, a national reference laboratory for the Brazilian Ministry of Health (MS). Besides its historical significance, this collection is representative of Brazilian biodiversity and genetic resources. Hence, the preservation of this heritage, unique in Brazil and the largest in South America, for future comparative studies is of extreme importance.