The Bubonic Plague

By: Maya Kerschen


The Bubonic Plague is a very, very severe disease. Thousands of people die from every outbreak. This is an infection of bacteria in the body that requires strict isolation and disinfection procedures. Even though the Bubonic Plague has had a few outbreaks in the United States, it is still very rare.


Symptoms start to occur within the first 6 days of exposure to the disease. You may notice weakness in muscles, chills, vomiting, fever (104 degree temp.), rapid heartbeat, delirious behavior, and slurred speech. Some other symptoms may be staggered walking, blood infection, non-specific Influenza symptoms, Pneumonia, and a nervous system collapse. Near the infected spot you will notice an inflamed or swollen lymph gland. These can be found near the armpit, neck, or groin and is warm or tender to the touch. Headaches, fatigue, discomfort, and muscle aches may occur. When internal bleeding happens your skin may also turn black and with the texture of ash.

Who Gets the Plague?

Anybody can get this disease at any age. It may be more common to people working around or in cornfields with infected rodents. Everybody is eligible to get this disease but you are much less likely to get it if you have already survived it once which isn't very common.


This disease can be transmitted in a few different ways; through insects, animals, and humans. The disease is in fleas and can be spread to animals which are mammals through bites. Humans handling infected animals are capable and more likely to attract the Plague. Pnuemonic Plague is able to spread human-to-human and others are not. Every continent has had cases of this except for Australia.

Location and History

The Bubonic Plague is very rare in the United States but a few cases have been identified in the East and West. This is also in every continent except for Australia. In year 531, the first outbreak occurred. It started in Africa and then was spread to Constantinople. Throughout the next centuries, smaller outbreaks hit Europe and Asia. In each town the Plague hit, 50% of the people died. These towns were usually small, isolated villages. The first time the Plague hit Europe was in 1347 in Sicily, Italy. In 1352, it came to a slow before hitting London again in 1665 where more than 70,000 people died. Lots of this was caused by trade ships with workers carrying the disease. Several more outbreaks occurred including the one in India.

Causes and Treatment

This is caused by fleas transmitting the disease to animals which may transfer it to humans. These animals include: rats, squirrels, rabbits, prairie dogs, and chipmunks. Some treatment for this which could help is antibiotics such as Streptomycin, Tetracycline, or Chloramphenicol. A few other medicines could be Gentamicin (Vibramycin) or Doxycycline. If you survive this disease, which is very rare, you are less likely to receive it again. This does not provide full protection but it does provide some.


Some Prevention from humans could be to treat all personal items or clothing to kill fleas. These patients should be quarantined for three days at the minimum.

Prevention of disease outbreak could be to use Rodenticides or Insecticides. You will also want to avoid Wild Prairie Dogs and not use them as pets if from the Western United States. When cases are identified control will be taken and there will be efforts to reduce or control the population of fleas and rodents.


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