The Bubonic Plague
Treatment for the Bubonic Plague
If it is suspected that a person has the bubonic plague, treatment should be started even before lab tests come back, and the person should be hospitalized and placed in isolation. Treatment generally involves antibiotics. It is also important that people who have been in close contact with someone who has bubonic plague be identified and evaluated.
Prognosis for the Bubonic Plague
The bubonic plague can quickly progress, possibly causing septicemic plague, or even develop into pneumonic plague, if it is not treated early. The mortality rate is 50 to 90 percent if not treated; the rate is 15 percent when diagnosed and treated early.
Preventing the Bubonic Plague
Outbreaks of the bubonic plague will most likely continue to occur in wild rodent hosts, and will probably continue to exist in its many localized geographic areas around the world. Attempts to eliminate the plague in wild rodents are costly and futile; therefore, bubonic plague prevention is directed toward reducing the threat of infection in humans in high-risk areas through three techniques:
- Environmental management
- Public health education
- Preventive drug therapy.
How Common Is the Bubonic Plague?
Approximately 10 to 20 people in the United States develop the bubonic plague in rural areas of the southwestern United States each year from flea or rodent bites (especially from infected prairie dogs). About one in seven of those infected die from it. There has not been a case of person-to-person infection in the United States since 1924.
Worldwide, there have been small plague outbreaks in Asia, Africa, and South America. Globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports 1,000 to 3,000 cases of the bubonic plague every year. Current statistics show there were 2,118 cases in 2003 worldwide.
The bubonic plague occurs more frequently during spring and summer months and in people under the age of 20 (especially men).
(Click Where Is Plague? for more information.)