The plague is a severe bacterial infection spread mainly through fleas. Yersinia pestis, the bacterium that causes plague, resides in small rodents that are most commonly found in rural and semi-rural locations. People who are bitten by fleas that have eaten infected rodents or humans who handle contaminated animals get the bacterium.

If not treated promptly with antibiotics, it can be fatal. The most common form of plague causes symptoms of enlarged and sensitive lymph nodes in the groin, armpits, or neck, known as buboes. The rarest and most lethal form of plague affects the lungs and can be passed from person to person.

Types of PLAGUE

There are three categories of Plague:

  • Bubonic plague
  • Septicemic plague
  • Pneumonic plague


Bubonic plague

Bubonic plague usually takes 2 to 8 days to develop. The Patients experience fever, headaches, chills, weakness, and swollen, painful lymph nodes (buboes). The bite of an infected flea usually causes this form.

Septicemic plague

The incubation period for septicemic plague is unknown. However, it is likely to begin within days of exposure. Patients have a fever, chills, acute weakness, abdominal pain, shock, and possibly skin and organ hemorrhage. Skin and other tissues, especially fingers, toes, and the nose, may turn black.

Pneumonic plague

Pneumonic plague often has an incubation period of 1 to 3 days. Fever, weakness, headache, and fast-developing pneumonia with chest pain, shortness of breath, cough, and sometimes bloody or watery mucus develop in patients. Pneumonic plague can be caused by inhaling infected droplets or the untreated bubonic or septicemic plague that has progressed to the lungs. Pneumonia can result in respiratory failure and shock.

When to see a doctor?

The plague is a dangerous disease. If anyone suddenly feels ill after being in an area where this disease is known to occur, get emergency medical help. To avoid significant consequences, you'll need medical treatment.


The plague bacteria, Yersinia pestis, is transmitted to humans by fleas that have previously fed on diseased animals, such as:

  • Chipmunks
  • Rats
  • Squirrels
  • Voles
  • Mice
  • Rabbits
  • Prairie dogs

If blood from an infected animal comes into contact with a break in your skin, the bacteria can potentially enter the body. Flea bites or consuming infected rodents can cause domestic cats and dogs to develop the plague.

Inhaling contaminated droplets coughed into the air by a sick person or animal leads one to contract pneumonic plague, which affects the lungs.

Risk factors

Infection with the plague is quite rare, and only a few thousand people develop this condition yearly. However, the locations one visits and lives in and the job and hobbies can all raise the chance of contracting the plague.


Although there isn't a reliable vaccination, researchers are working on one. If individuals have been exposed to the plague or are at risk of contracting it, antibiotics can help prevent infection. If one resides in or frequently visits places where plague outbreaks occur, take the following precautions:

Rodent-proof your home

Eliminate potential nesting locations, including piles of firewood, rocks, brush, and other waste. Pet food shouldn't be left in places where rodents have easy access. Take action to eradicate any rodent infestation as soon as you become aware.

Keep your pets free of fleas

Ask the veterinarian about the best flea-control products.

Wear gloves

Wear gloves when handling potentially infected animals to avoid skin contact with dangerous microorganisms.

Use insect repellent

When spending time outside in locations with high rodent populations, keep an eye on the children and pets. Apply insect repellent.


If the doctor suspects that you have the plague, they may search for Yersinia pestis bacteria in samples taken from you:


If people have swollen lymph nodes (buboes) as a symptom of bubonic plague, the doctor may extract a fluid sample from them with a needle (aspiration).


If people have the septicemic plague, they will have Yersinia pestis bacteria in the bloodstream.


The physician will collect mucus (sputum) or fluid from the airways using a tiny, flexible tube inserted through the mouth or nose and down the throat to test for pneumonic plague (endoscopy).


Plague is a deadly disease, although it is treated with routinely available medications. The sooner a patient seeks medical attention and receives suitable plague treatment, the higher their prospects of full recovery.

People who come into contact with severely ill pneumonic plague sufferers may be assessed and placed under observation. Preventive antibiotic medication may also be given depending on the type and timing of intimate contact.

Care at Medicover Hospitals

At Medicover hospitals, we have the best team of general physicians and specialists who treat the serious disease, Plague, and its severe symptoms. Our highly qualified physicians employ the most up-to-date diagnostic tools and procedures to run tests, diagnose, and treat plague. Our specialists collaborate with patients to track their health and treatment progress to achieve a faster and long-term recovery.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why is the plague called Black Death?

Bubonic plague is called the Black Death because most persons who caught it lost their life, and many had blackened tissue due to gangrene.

2. Is the plague curable?

Antibiotics can successfully treat the plague. When a patient is suspected of having the plague, they should be immediately hospitalized and medically isolated in the case of pneumonic plague.

3. Which animal spreads the disease plague?

Plague bacteria are frequently spread via the bite of an infected flea. Many rodents die during plague epidemics, leaving hungry fleas to seek alternative blood supplies.

4. What happens in the plague?

Patients suffer fever, chills, acute weakness, abdominal pain, shock, and possibly skin and organ hemorrhage. Skin and other tissues, including fingers, toes, and the nose, may turn black and die.

5. Did rats cause the plague?

Historians believe fleas on rats were responsible for the estimated 25 million plague fatalities. According to a new study, people were the leading carriers of fleas and lice that spread the plague, not rats.

6. What is bubonic plague?

The most prevalent type of plague is bubonic plague, which is caused by the bite of an infected flea. The plague bacillus, Yersinia pestis, enters the body through the bite and travels through the lymphatic system to the next lymph node, where it replicates.