Plague Home > Symptoms of Bubonic Plague

In many cases, bubonic plague symptoms tend to develop within one to six days after exposure, and range from enlarged lymph nodes to diarrhea to vomiting. If left untreated, the condition is often fatal. Less than 10 percent of people with the disease go on to develop bubonic plague meningitis. Symptoms of bubonic plague meningitis can include stiff neck, fever, headache, and coma.

Signs and Symptoms of Bubonic Plague: An Overview

Once a person becomes infected with plague bacteria (Yersinia pestis), these bacteria begin to multiply, and after one to six days, bubonic plague symptoms can occur. The period between becoming infected and the start of symptoms is called the plague incubation period. If they are not treated immediately, symptoms can rapidly worsen, and death may occur.

Common Bubonic Plague Symptoms

Common symptoms of this disease include:
  • Fever
  • Buboes (tender, enlarged lymph nodes in the armpits, neck, or groin, ranging in size from 1 to 10 cm, in 70 percent of patients)
  • Headache
  • Abdominal pain
  • Chills
  • Diarrhea, which may be bloody
  • Nausea
  • Decreased appetite
  • Tiny broken blood vessels (called petechiae)
  • Vomiting.
(Click Bubonic Plague Pictures to see images of plague symptoms.)

Other Symptoms of Bubonic Plague

In less than 10 percent of cases, bubonic plague meningitis occurs as a result of plague. Symptoms of bubonic plague meningitis can include:
  • Coma
  • Stiff neck
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Confusion.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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