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Plague is a potentially deadly disease caused by a bacterium
(Yersinia pestis) that comes from rodents. Fleas on
rodents can also spread this disease.
There are three ways plague
can make people ill:
affects the lungs. An infected person can spread the disease by sneezing,
coughing, or otherwise releasing saliva droplets that are inhaled by another
person. If a person does not get antibiotics within 24 hours of the first
symptoms, pneumonic plague can cause respiratory failure, shock, and rapid
death. Symptoms usually include fever, weakness, and shortness of breath.
Bubonic plague spreads through the bite
of a flea infected with the plague bacterium. Symptoms of bubonic plague
include fever, fatigue, and swollen, tender lymph glands in the neck, armpits,
Septicemic plague occurs when
bacteria enter the bloodstream and multiply. Symptoms of septicemic plague
include fever, belly pain, purplish skin, and shock.
the plague requires adequate sanitation. After diagnosis of the plague, the
infected person is isolated from others to prevent the spread of the disease.
Treatment includes antibiotics, rest, fluids, and pain medicines.
Current as of:
June 4, 2014
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Christine Hahn, MD - Epidemiology
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