The Plague

Leah Goodman

What is The Plague?

Bubonic plague is a zoonotic disease, mostly contracted by fleas or on small rodents and is one of three types of bacterial infections caused by Yersinia pestis, which belongs to the family Enterobacteriaceae. Without treatment, the bubonic plague kills about two thirds of infected humans within 4 days.


Symptoms should appear 2-6 days after infection and can be used to determine diagnosis.

These include:

  • Enlarged, tender lymph nodes called buboes (found in 70% of victims)
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tiny broken blood vessels

Doctors often diagnose using physical exams of the skin and lungs. Blood work, saliva samples, and lymph node fluid samples can also be used.

Disease course

If the patient is treated immediately, the death rate is fairly low with a 1-15% death rate. If the Plague is left untreated, it can turn into the Septicemic Plague with a 40% death rate. If the Plague continues to go untreated it can turn into Pneumonic Plague which has an 100% death rate if not treated within twenty-four hours. Within a 7 day period, the plague can give you meningitis, swelling around the heart, blood infections, and tissue decay.

Relative Frequency

From 1960-1997, 381 cases of the plague were confirmed in the United States. 67% of these cases came from southwestern states. Today, The plague is still contractible, but it can be prevented and treated.

Target Audience: Anyone