Plague Home > Bubonic Plague Symptoms and Treatment

There are many symptoms of bubonic plague, and treatment generally includes antibiotics. Common symptoms include buboes, fever, and diarrhea. Because the bacteria that cause plague can quickly multiply in the bloodstream, the quicker treatment is administered, the better. The mortality rate with early recognition of symptoms and treatment is only 15 percent, as opposed to 50 to 90 percent if left untreated.

Bubonic Plague Symptoms and Treatment: An Introduction

Patients are generally hospitalized and placed in isolation if an infection with the bacteria that causes plague (Yersinia pestis) is suspected. Even before lab tests come back, treatment will be started, typically involving antibiotics. It also important that people who have been in close contact with an infected person be identified and evaluated.

Common Symptoms of Bubonic Plague

Common bubonic plague symptoms include:
  • Headache
  • Buboes (tender, enlarged lymph nodes in the armpits, groin, or the neck, ranging in size from 1 to 10 cm)
  • Abdominal pain (stomach pain)
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Decreased appetite
  • Tiny, broken blood vessels (called petechiae)
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Chills
  • Diarrhea, which may be bloody.
(Click Bubonic Plague Pictures to see images of plague symptoms.)

Complications Associated With Bubonic Plague Symptoms

Plague meningitis may occur, but it develops in less than 10 percent of infected people. Symptoms of plague meningitis can include:
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Stiff neck
  • Coma
  • Fever.

Antibiotics as a Treatment for Bubonic Plague

Specific antibiotics used to treat plague can include:
  • Streptomycin
  • Gentamicin.
Other antibiotics, such as tetracyclines and chloramphenicol, can also be effective.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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