What Are the Symptoms of Bubonic Plague?


Quick Answer

MedicineNet.com explains that the bubonic plague, which is the most common form of plague, affects the lymphatic system, causing painful, enlarged lymph nodes known as buboes. Accompanying symptoms include weakness, fever, headache and chills. These flu-like symptoms typically develop within three to seven days of exposure to bubonic plague bacteria. According to MedicineNet.com, if left untreated, the infection may spread from the lymph nodes to other areas of the body.

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As of 2014, approximately 10 to 20 people in the United States get bubonic plague each year, with one out of seven dying as a result of the infection, according to MedicineNet.com. The disease is typically transmitted through infected rodent or flea bites; prairie dogs in the southwestern United States are often infected with low levels of plague. Although person-to-person infection is possible, it is incredibly rare. As of 2014, the last case of person-to-person infection in the United States occurred in 1924.

In addition to bubonic plague, there are two other types of plague: septicemic plague and pneumonic plague. MedicineNet.com explains that the diagnosis of bubonic plague is based on the identification of causative bacteria in tissue or fluid samples. As of 2014, there is no preventative plague vaccine available. Antibiotics are the primary treatment and are most effective when given very early in the course of the infection.

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