About PLAGUE

What is the Plague?
You’ve probably heard of the “Black Plague” from your high school history class, but it’s actually part of a larger Zoonotic disease simply called the Plague.  It is a bacterial disease of rodents that can spread to humans and other animals by infected fleas.  There are three major forms of the disease:
·         Bubonic Plague is an infection of the lymph nodes (Black Plague)
·         Pneumonic Plague is an infection of the lungs
·         Septicemic Plague is an infection of the blood
The organism Yersinia pestis causes Plague. Rodents, such as rats, spread the disease to humans.

How do people get the Plague?
People can get the Plague when a flea that carries the Plague bacteria from an infected rodent bites them. In rare cases, you may get the disease when handling an infected animal. Here are some ways to get Plague:
  • By the bites of infected fleas
  • By direct contact with the tissues or body fluids of a Plague-infected animal
  • By inhaling infectious airborne droplets from persons or animals, especially cats, with Plague pneumonia
  • By laboratory exposure to Plague bacteria
What are the signs and symptoms of the Plague?
Bubonic Plague symptoms appear suddenly, usually after 2-5 days of exposure to the bacteria. Symptoms include:
·         High fever
·         Smooth, painful lymph gland swelling called a buboe
o    Commonly found in the groin, but may occur in the armpits or neck.
o    Pain may occur in the area before the swelling.
·         Chills
·         General ill feeling (malaise)
·         Muscle pain
·         Severe headache
·         Seizures
Pneumonic Plague symptoms appear suddenly, typically 2-3 days after exposure. They include:
·         Severe cough
·         Frothy, bloody sputum
·         Difficulty breathing
Septicemic Plague may cause death even before the symptoms occur. Symptoms can include:
·         Abdominal pain
·         Blood clotting problems
·         Diarrhea
·         Fever
·         Low blood pressure
·         Nausea
·         Organ failure
·         Vomiting

What is the treatment for the Plague?
If diagnosed in time, Plague is treatable with antibiotics. Treatment of suspected Plague cases should start as soon as possible after the laboratory examinations of the specimen. Streptomycin is usually the antibiotic administered, but several other antibiotics are also effective.

How can the Plague be prevented?
·         Do not feed any rodent or rabbit species in the wild.
·         When camping or hiking, do not hang around in rodent-infested areas. Do not catch,
play with or attempt to hand feed wild rodents.
·         Avoid contact with all sick and dead rodents and rabbits. Look for the
presence of blowflies or dead animal smell as evidence of animal die-offs.
·         While hiking, treat pants, socks, shoe tops, arms and legs with insect
repellants.
·         Insecticide powders or shampoos should be used on cats and dogs every few
days while in Plague areas.
·         Cats sometimes exhibit swelling and sores around the mouth head and neck when infected. Seek professional veterinarian care for such animals and do not handle suspiciously sick pets without gloves and face protection.

·         Remember the incubation period of 2-6 days and consult a physician if
sudden unexplained illness occurs within that period after activities in the
outdoors.

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