Plague - Symptoms, Risk factors and Treatment

The plague, once called the black death, is a deadly disease. You may think it does not exist anymore. But it does and is dangerous. However, it is treatable now. Plague is a bacterial disease that is transmitted through fleas that feed on rodents, who have been infected with the organism known as Yersinia pestis. 


Nowadays it occurs in less than 5000 people in a year. If not treated at right time, it can become deadly. It can lead to complications like tender and swollen lymph nodes in the armpits, neck, and groin area- called buboes. A very rare form of plague, that is deadly affects the lungs- can spread from person to person through cough droplets. 


Symptoms 


The symptoms of plague vary according to the area it affects. It can be divided into three types;


  • Bubonic plague 

  • Septicemic plague 

  • Pneumonic plague 



Bubonic plague 


The most common type of plague is a bubonic plague that forms buboes- tender and swollen lymph nodes in the armpits, neck, and groin area. They often develop in the first week of getting infected. Buboes may have the following characteristics;


  • They can be situated in the neck, groin, or armpit

  • They are tender and firm upon touch

  • They may have a size that of chicken egg


The symptoms of bubonic plague are;


  • Sudden onset of fever and chills

  • Muscle aches

  • Headache

  • Fatigue or malaise


Septicemic plague


It is the type of plague that occurs when bacteria invade your bloodstream. The signs and symptoms of septicemic plague are;


  • Fever 

  • Chills

  • Extreme weakness

  • Abdominal pain

  • Diarrhea  

  • Vomiting 

  • Bleeding from mouth

  • Bleeding from nose or rectum

  • Bleeding from under your skin


Shock - a condition in which blood pressure falls, due to which blood supply to the organs is affected, leading to organ failure and damage. 


Gangrene - Blackening and death of tissue in your extremities, most commonly- fingers, toes, and nose


Pneumonic plague


It is the type of plague that is rare but deadliest because it affects the lungs and spreads from person to person via cough droplets. The signs and symptoms of pneumonic plague are;


  • Cough, with bloody mucus (sputum)

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Chest pain

  • High fever

  • Headache

  • Weakness



Within two days of infection, pneumonic plague can lead to respiratory failure and shock. It needs to be readily treated with antibiotics. If left untreated, it progresses rapidly, causing death eventually. 



Causes


The bacteria that causes plague is Yersinia Pestis. It is transmitted to human beings through fleas who have previously fed on infected animals like;


  • Rats

  • Mice

  • Chipmunks

  • Voles

  • Squirrels

  • Rabbits

  • Prairie dogs



Complications 


Plague, if not treated by antibiotics at the right time, can lead to the following complications;


Meningitis- inflammation of meninges- layers that surround and protect the brain and the spinal cord. 


Gangrene- blackening and death of tissue in your extremities, most commonly- fingers, toes, and nose


Death- people who fail to receive antibiotics at the right time may die of septicemia. However, most people who receive antibiotic treatment at the right time may recover soon. 




Preventions


To prevent Plague, you must prevent the entry of any insects and mice into your home.


To prevent the entrance of mice and rodents into your home, you can practice the following tips;


Block all the accesses into your house. A little opening can even serve as an entrance for mice. They can squeeze themselves up to 6 millimeters. Therefore you need to make sure that you close all the inlets properly. 


Keep food inside the refrigerator or in covered lids. Do not let the food remain open and unprotected outside as they may get attracted to it. 


Clear junk, grass, and brushes far away from the building, and wear a mask while doing that. 


Use insect repellants to protect you and yourself from insects. 


Ensure that no fleas come near your pets.



Conclusion 


Plague is a bacterial disease that is transmitted through fleas that feed on rodents, who have been infected with the organism known as Yersinia pestis. To treat it, antibiotics should be given readily. 


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