(Pneumonic Plague; Bubonic Plague; Septicemic Plague; Pharyngeal Plague)
by Michael Jubinville, MPH
Plague is a bacterial infection.
There are 3 types:
Certain bacteria cause plague. How it spreads:
Your risk is higher if you live in or travel to places where plague is common. It’s found in the southwestern and western US, and other parts of the world.
Risk is also higher if you:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, and health and travel history. You may have:
Public health officials will work quickly to find the source of plague to set up testing and care.
Antibiotics treat the infection. Care will start right away. This may include isolation.
For the septicemic type, your healthcare team will support your organs, blood pressure, and oxygen supply while your body fights the infection.
If exposed to plague, you’ll need to take antibiotics for 7 days. People who care for you will need to wear masks.
If there is a terrorist attack, medicines go to those who have signs of infection.
To help lower your chances of plague:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Public Health Agency of Canada
Inglesby TV, Dennis DT, Henderson DA, et al. Plague as a biological weapon: medical and public health management. Working Group on Civilian Biodefense. JAMA. 2000;283(17):2281-2290.
Plague. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
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Updated March 3, 2015. Accessed May 15, 2018.
Plague. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116252/Plague . Updated September 8, 2015. Accessed May 15, 2018.
Last reviewed May 2018 by David L. Horn, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 5/15/2018
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