Plague Home > Bubonic Plague Causes

The bubonic plague causes are bacteria called Yersinia pestis. Usually, the bacteria is spread through the bites of infected fleas or rodents. However, other animals can carry this bacteria, too, such as prairie dogs, lice, and chipmunks. Once infected, bubonic plague causes such symptoms as headaches, fever, and swollen, tender lymph glands.

Bubonic Plague Causes: An Overview

Bubonic plague is the most common form of plague. Bubonic plague is caused by Yersinia pestis, also known as plague bacteria. This bacteria also causes the other two forms of plague: septicemic plague and pneumonic plague (see Types of Plague).
 

Bubonic Plague Causes: Yersinia Pestis

Yersinia pestis are Gram-negative bacteria found in certain parts of the world, primarily Africa, Asia, and South America. It causes about 1,000 to 3,000 plague cases each year. Between 10 to 20 of these cases are in the United States, most commonly in rural areas of the Southwest.
 
Yersinia pestis is found most often in rats, but occasionally in other animals. Other animals known to carry the bacteria include:
 
  • Mice
  • Fleas
  • Lice
  • Prairie dogs
  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Squirrels
  • Wood rats
  • Chipmunks.
     
(Click Bubonic Plague Pictures for examples of animals that cause bubonic plague.)
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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