The plague, also known as black death, is caused by Yersinia pestis bacteria, which is transmitted to humans by infected fleas. Many are infected with the plague through bites from a plague carrying rodent flea or handling of an infected animal.
Bubonic plague should be considered anytime you have had a possible infected flea exposure and your swollen glands are accompanied by a sudden onset of:
You will usually becomes ill with this black death plague 2-6 days after infection and antibiotics are your primary survival treatment. Overall fatality rate is 1 in 7.
If bubonic plague is left untreated, this progressive illness leads to septicemic plague. This severe blood infection comes with additional symptoms, including:
The final stage of the plague progression is pneumonic plague, a severe lung infection. At this stage you may experience:
Pneumonic plague can spread via respiratory droplets, present in an infected individuals cough. The death rate is over 50% at this stage.
The area of plague concern in the U.S. is mainly the western portion. Squirrels have been a common source for recent plague transmissions. Lifestyle risk factors include:
- recent flea bite
- contact with sick animals, small rodents, other hosts
- living in a recently confirmed plague activity community
- living in rural/non urban areas ~ especially known plague areas
- wilderness activity participation ~ hunting, camping, hiking, ground sleeping
- working with animals ~ veterinarian, veterinarian assistants, animal groomers
An outbreak of the plague can occur anytime of the year. And even though a plague vaccine does exist, it is not available to everyone.
To avoid the plague and maintain your health eradicate flea and rodent infestations immediately; never handle rats, squirrels, or any other such animals; and leave the “road kill” for expert removal.