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Plague - Is septicemic plague contagious?

Updated on January 12, 2012
Septicemic Plague
Septicemic Plague

Plague - origins, types, symptoms, and treatments.

Plague is contracted through the bite of an infected flea. The flea became infected by biting a rodent that carries the bacteria.

Rodents, infected with the plague (yersinia pestitis), are found throughout the world.

In the thirteen hundreds, plague, the so-called 'Black Death,' ravaged Europe, causing the death of over one third of the population. Few survived longer than a few weeks.

Massive outbreaks of Plagues are unlikely to ever occur again due to medical advances and improved methods of sanitation.

The plague outbreaks in the thirteen hundreds were a combination of the three types of plague, Pneumonic, Septicemic,and Bubonic.

PNEUMONC PLAGUE is the rarest form of plague, but also the most dangerous, as it develops rapidly and is contagious. Pneumonic plague occurs when the bacteria has entered the lungs, and can be spread by coughed droplets. Symptoms of pneumonic plague include a cough that may include blood, difficulty breathing, fever, nausea, and vomiting.

SEPTICEMIC PLAGUE occurs when the bacteria multiplies in the blood. This plague causes fever and chills, abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. There may also be bleeding under the skin and from the mouth and nose. Fingers and toes may turn black as gangrene sets in and body tissue dies.

BUBONIC PLAGUE'S most evident symptoms are swollen, tender lymph nodes in the neck, under the arms, and in the groin. There may also be weakness chills, fever, headache, and aching muscles.

Many of the symptoms of plague may initially seem similar to those of flu, so it is important to seek medical attention immediately, if you exhibit any of the above symptoms, especially if are in an area where plague has been reported, if you feel you may have been bitten by a flea, or if you are in a location where rodents are a problem.

Plague is treated with powerful doses of antibiotics. It is true that people still die from plague, but deaths usually occur in areas where sanitation and pest control measures are more primative, and medical facilities are minimal or non-existent.

Remember that, while septicemic and bubonic plague are spread by the bites of infected fleas and are not contagious, pneumonic plague, though also initially spread by flea bites, is highly contagious and more likely to be fatal as symptoms appear within hours of a bite, and progress rapidly. Some precautions are obviously in order.

1. Always seek medical attention if you have any symptoms that concern you.

2. Avoid traveling to areas where plague has been reported.

3. Keep you home and property neat and clean. Deal promptly with any rodent infestations.

4. Give your animals regular, recommended treatments for fleas. Your veterinarian will recommend what is best for your animals and your location. A combination flea and tick medication may be recommended.

5. Be especially cautious when camping outdoors, in areas, or around animals with which you are not familiar.

There is a vaccine for plague, but its use is limited to those whose work puts them at greatest risk. Pneumonic plague could potentially become a weapon of bioterrorists. Therefore, there is ongoing research to to enable the develop of large quantities of a more effective vaccine.


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    • billips profile image

      billips 6 years ago from Central Texas

      Yes Derdriu - plague is still with us - another horrible disease we must deal conquer - thanks for commenting - B.

    • profile image

      Derdriu 6 years ago

      Billips, What a chilling, provocative, sobering summary of the three plagues which have "plagued" humankind! In particular, you do a great job of identifying the causes and manifestations of each of the three plaques. It's my understanding that bubonic plague can be found in parts of the southwestern United States of America and that polio is resurfacing because of laxity in vaccinating current generations.

      Thank you for sharing,


    • stars439 profile image

      stars439 6 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

      Interesting hub, and God Bless You.

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 6 years ago from Canada

      Scarey topic, well handled. It's a sobering fact that many of these ancient diseases are still with us.

    • IntimatEvolution profile image

      Julie Grimes 6 years ago from Columbia, MO USA

      Extremely interesting. Love your hard work and rich details.

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 6 years ago from USA

      This sounds terrible. I wonder how you'd know you had it at first until you got some of the really bad symptoms.

    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 6 years ago from Neverland

      Wow, if I wasn't already drawn in by the title and the fact that Im a germophobe, the photo surely got me! Thanks for sharing your information :)

    • tammyfrost profile image

      Tammy Frost 6 years ago from Oregon

      Ouch. Great choice of photo. Caught my eye.

    • Majidsiko profile image

      Majidsiko 6 years ago from Kenya

      To be noted a number of outbreak have been due to eradication programs for rats. Once you kill the normal host for fleas they will find an alternative. I'm in Tanzania and the plague here is endemic in some area, but if found early its very treatable.