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Plague Disease

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Introduction to Plague Disease

The plague disease is a very serious and fatal bacterial infection that is transmitted mostly by fleas. The organism responsible for causing the plague disease is known as Yersinia pestis mostly resides on the bodies of small rodents. 

These organisms have been found mostly in the semi-rural and rural regions of the United States, Asia, and Africa. They can be transmitted to human beings who are affected by the bites of fleas that have been feasting on the infected rodents. Most people that handle these infected animals also have a high risk of developing the disease. 

Plague Disease History

The plague disease was also known as the Black Death or the black plague disease during the medieval periods of time. It is also presumed that this disease was behind some of the serious epidemics in history such as the striking of the Philistines, as explained in the biblical books. The unequivocal proof for the existence of plague comes from the sudden discovery of the genomic traces of the bacteria. Some evidence collected from the Neolithic farmers’ teeth in Sweden also proved that the bacteria existed in the regions of Europe and Asia between 3000 and 800 BCE. However, it still seems to be impossible to figure out the exact origins of the disease in history. 

In the present day, this disease is found to have an effect on less than about 5000 people every single year. This disease can prove to be very fatal if the symptoms are not properly treated with antibiotics. Some of the most common causes of plague result in tender and swollen lymph nodes also known as buboes that are situated in the neck, groin, and armpits. Yet, the deadliest and the rarest type of plague has been seen to affect the human lungs and can be transmitted from one person to another. 

Symptoms of Plague Disease 

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The plague disease can be divided into 3 important types known as the bubonic plague, the pneumonic plague, and the septicemic plague. The classification of the disease is done on the basis of the part of the body that is affected by the plague. The symptoms and signs of the disease might vary according to the plague type. 

1. Bubonic Plague

This type of plague is one of the most common occurrences. The name comes from the lymph nodes that are swollen. The lymph nodes are also known as buboes and hence the name bubonic plague. The symptoms of this type of plague might be seen just a week after the infection occurs. These symptoms include: 

  • Sudden occurrence of chills and fever 

  • Malaise or fatigue 

  • Aches in the muscle 

  • Headaches 

2. Septicemic Plague

This is one of the types of plague disease that occurs when the bacteria multiply in the bloodstream of the person. Some common symptoms and signs of the disease include:

  • Chills and fever 

  • Extreme weakness

  • Bleeding from the nose, rectum, mouth, or the skin 

  • Vomiting, diarrhoea, and abdominal pain 

  • Blacking of the tissue and gangrene mostly in the regions of the toes, nose, and fingers 

  • Shock 

3. Pneumonic Plague

The pneumonic plague targets the lungs of the body. It is one of the rarest forms of plague but is certainly the deadliest because there is a risk of transmitting the disease from one person to another via droplets of cough. The symptoms of this type of plague can begin just mere hours after the person is infected. The symptoms and signs include: 

  • Bloody mucus and severe coughing 

  • Vomiting and nausea 

  • Difficulty in breathing 

  • Headaches 

  • High fever and severe chills 

  • Chest pain and weakness 

One of the dangers of the pneumonic plague is that it can progress really fast and can cause shock plus respiratory failure within a span of two days. In order to treat pneumonic plague, a strong dose of antibodies is essential right after the symptoms of plague disease start developing. 

What is Plague Disease Caused By? 

The bacteria responsible for the plague is known as yersinia pestis and it is transmitted in human beings through the biting of fleas that have been feeding on the infected rodents and animals. Some examples of infected rodents include rats, squirrels, mice, rabbits, and chipmunks. Certain prairie dogs and voles can also be infected with the bacteria and cause this disease in humans. 

Also, plague disease caused by a sudden break in the skin is another common cause. If the broken part of the skin comes in contact with the blood of an animal that is infected, it can lead to the spreading of the disease into the system. Domestic dogs and cats also have a high chance of getting infected when they suffer from flea bites or eat infected rodents. 

An exception to that is the pneumonic plague that can be spread by inhaling the cough droplets in the air by a person who is infected. The complications from the black and white plague disease can result in problems such as meningitis, gangrene, and death.


It is advised that in case the symptoms start developing, seeing the doctor will be the right thing to do. They can start you on antibiotics which can help in stopping the infection from spreading. Consulting with the doctor can also help people achieve the best treatment of plague disease.

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FAQs on Plague Disease

1. What is plague disease?

The plague disease is a term given to a serious health condition that is caused by the transmission of the bacteria Yersinia pestis in humans. This type of bacteria has been found to exist mostly in the regions of the United States, Asia, and Africa. According to Black plague history, the disease’s early existence has been found between the periods of 3000 and 800 BCE. However, due to a lack of proper evidence, the accurate details are not yet known to people. The black plague disease is transmitted in human beings through the fleas that have previously feasted on the infected rodents. The only exception to these cases is the pneumonic plague that can be transmitted by inhaling the droplets of cough that are suspended in the air by a person who is infected.

2. What are the different types of plague disease?

The plague disease can be grouped into 3 different types and they are bubonic plague, septicemic plague, and pneumonic plague. While the bubonic plague tends to be one of the most commonly occurring in history and present, it is the pneumonic plague that is considered to be the deadliest one of all. The classification of these plague diseases is done on the basis of the body parts that are affected by the disease. While the bubonic plague affects the lymph nodes or the buboes of the body, the septicemic plague affects the bloodstream and the pneumonic plague affects the lungs in the human body.

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