the persistent spread of <the disease>

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Does "the disease" here refer to sylvatic anthrax? But the anthrax is a pathogen, not a disease. So it refers to the 38% of deaths of wildlife? It appears to be odd.

What does "the disease" refer to?

Nearly 12% of the flies carried sylvatic anthrax, which causes more than 38% of wildlife deaths in rainforest ecosystems. The researchers hypothesize that flies could be at least partially responsible for the persistent spread of the disease, which is transmitted by a different microbe from the type of anthrax that infects people. A few flies also carried the bacterium that causes yaws, a disfiguring skin disease that affects both humans and animals.

Source: Science By Eva Frederick Jul. 12, 2019
Anthrax-carrying flies follow monkeys through the forest
  • Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Our dictionary's definition of anthrax:

    1. an infectious disease* of cattle, sheep, and other mammals that can be transmitted to humans, as by handling infected wool, and that is marked by skin ulcers.​
    *Underlining mine. Cagey.
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