Plague Facts, Symptoms & Treatment

The plague is a severe bacterial infection, which can be lethal. At times referred to as the “black plague,” this disease is caused by bacterial species called ‘Yersinia pestis’ which is found on animals all over the world and is generally spread to humans via fleas. Areas that have poor sanitation, a large population of rodents and overcrowded have the highest risk of the plague. The plague aka the “black death,” was the cause of the deaths of millions of people in Europe in primitive times. In the present day, however there are only 1,000 to 2,000 cases reported worldwide each year, with the highest rate in Africa. Plague being a rapidly developing disease if untreated, it can lead to death. You should call a doctor immediately or go to an emergency room for immediate medical attention.

Yersinia pestis (plague) bacteria

Yersinia pestis (plague) bacteria

There are three types of plague:

  1. Bubonic Plague & Facts

Bubonic plague is the most common form of plague which is usually caught when an infected rodent or flea bites you. In very exceptional cases, you can also get the bacteria from objects that has come into contact with an infected person. This form of plague infects your immune system, causing inflammation. If left untreated, it can transfer into the blood and cause septicemic plague, or to the lungs, causing pneumonic plague.

  1. Pneumonic Plague

Pneumonic plague occurs when the bacteria spread to the lungs. It is the most dangerous form of the disease. When someone suffering from pneumonic plague coughs, the bacteria from their lungs are exposed in the air. Other people who breathe that air can also acquire this highly contagious form of plague, which may lead to an outbreak. This is the only form of plague which can be transmitted from person to person.

  1. Septicemic Plague

Septicemic plague occurs when the bacteria enter the bloodstream directly and multiplies there. Both bubonic and pneumonic plague can lead to septicemic plague if left untreated.


People infected with the plague will usually develop flu-like symptoms in 2-6 days after infection. There are other symptoms that can distinguish between the three forms of the plague:

  1. Bubonic Plague Symptoms

Bubonic plague symptoms normally appear within two to six days. They include:

  • headache
  • fever and chills
  • general weakness
  • muscle pain
  • seizures

Further symptoms also include experience appearance of swollen lymph glands called buboes, which usually appear in the armpits, groin, neck, or site of the insect bite or scratch.

  1. Pneumonic Plague Symptoms

This plague may appear as quickly as one day after exposure to the bacteria. These symptoms include:

  • chest pain
  • bloody sputum (saliva and mucus or pus from the lungs)
  • trouble breathing
  • cough
  • headache
  • fever
  • overall weakness
  1. Septicemic Plague Symptoms

The symptoms of this plague generally appear within two to seven days after contact, but septicemic plague may lead to death even before symptoms appear. Symptoms can include:

  • abdominal pain
  • skin turning black (gangrene)
  • diarrhoea
  • fever and chills
  • nausea and vomiting
  • extreme weakness

This plague is a life-threatening condition which requires urgent care. It is a treatable disease using antibiotics that are commonly available if diagnosed and treated early.


Treatment usually consists of strong and effective antibiotics, oxygen, intravenous fluids and on occasion breathing support. People suffering from pneumonic plague must be quarantined from other patients. Strict precautions must be taken by medical personnel and caregivers to prevent getting or spreading plague. People who have come into contact patient suffering from pneumonic plague should also be monitored and generally given antibiotics as a preventive measure.


What causes bubonic plague

Yersinia pestis  (infected rodent or flea)

What year did the plague start

Bubonic plague was active in Europe from AD 1347

What is black death

The Black Death or Black Plague was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 75 to 200 million people and peaking in Europe in the years 1346–53.

What is a plague

Plague is an infectious disease that is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Depending on lung infection, or sanitary conditions, plague can be spread in the air, by direct contact, or very rarely by contaminated undercooked food.

What is bubonic plague

Bubonic plague is one of three types of bacterial infection caused by Yersinia pestis. Three to seven days after exposure to the bacteria flu like symptoms develop.

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