Skip to Content
Home > Wellness > Health Library > Plague
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:
May 22, 2015
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Christine Hahn, MD - Epidemiology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
I Want To...
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.