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Definition

What is plague?

Plague is a serious bacterial infection caused by Yersinia pestis that’s transmitted by fleas.

How common is plague?

Plague is extremely common. It can affect patients at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of plague?

Depending on the type of plague, symptoms can be varied, for example:

  • For bubonic plague, the common symptoms of plague are buboes situated in the groin, armpit, neck, about the size of a chicken egg and tender and warm to the touch. Other symptoms can be sudden onset of fever, chills, headache, fatigue, malaise and muscle aches.
  • For septicemic plague, the common symptoms are fever, chills, extreme weakness, abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, bleeding from your mouth, nose or rectum, or under the skin, shock, blackening and death of tissue (gangrene) in extremities, most commonly the fingers, toes, and nose.
  • For pneumonic plague, the common symptoms are cough, with bloody sputum, difficulty breathing, nausea, vomiting, high fever, headache, and weakness.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

You should contact your doctor if you have any of the symptoms listed above and live in the area where plague occurs. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation

Causes

What causes plague?

The plague is caused by Yersinia pestis infection transmitted to humans when they are bitten by fleas that have previously fed on infected animals, such as:

  • Rats;
  • Squirrels;
  • Rabbits;
  • Prairie dogs;
  • Chipmunks.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for plague?

There are many risk factors for plague, such as:

  • Location: plague outbreaks are most common in rural and semirural areas characterized by overcrowding, poor sanitation, and a high rodent population.
  • Occupation: veterinarians and their assistants have a higher risk of coming into contact with domestic cats and dogs that may have become infected with plague.
  • People who work in areas where plague-infected animals are common.
  • Hobbies: camping, hunting or hiking in areas where plague-infected animals reside can increase your risk of being bitten by an infected flea.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is plague diagnosed?

Plague can be diagnosed by testing Yersinia pestis bacteria in samples taken from your:

  • Buboes.
  • Blood.
  • Lungs.

How is plague treated?

You should be hospitalized to treat plague by taking powerful antibiotics, such as:

  • Gentamicin;
  • Doxycycline (Vibramycin);
  • Ciprofloxacin (Cipro);
  • Levofloxacin (Levaquin).

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage plague?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with plague:

  • Rodent-proof your home. By removing potential nesting areas, such as piles of brush, rock, firewood, junk and do not leave pet food in areas that rodents can easily access.
  • Keep your pets free of fleas.
  • Wear gloves when handling potentially infected animals to prevent contact between your skin and harmful bacteria.
  • Use insect repellent, closely supervise your children and pets when spending time outside in areas with large rodent populations.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: January 4, 2017 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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