Plague Home > Treatments for Bubonic Plague

Supportive care and antibiotics are usually used as treatments for bubonic plague. It is important that these treatments be started immediately to avoid serious complications. When treatments for bubonic plague are started early on in the infection, the morality rate is 15 percent, compared to the 50 to 90 percent mortality rate that exists if the disease is not treated.

Treatments for Bubonic Plague: An Overview

When an infection with the bacteria that causes plague (Yersinia pestis) is suspected, the person is typically hospitalized and placed in isolation. Even before lab tests come back, treatments for bubonic plague will be started -- usually involving antibiotics and supportive care. Supportive care is treating symptoms and complications that occur as a result of plague. It also important that people who have been in close contact with the infected person be identified and evaluated for possible treatment.

Antibiotics as Treatments for Bubonic Plague

Specific antibiotics used as treatments for bubonic plague can include:
  • Streptomycin
  • Gentamycin.
Other antibiotics, including tetracyclines and chloramphenicol, can also be effective. For someone with severe bubonic plague symptoms, these antibiotics are given through an intravenous (IV) line. Mild cases of bubonic plague may be treated with antibiotics taken by mouth.

Supportive Care as Treatments for Bubonic Plague

As mentioned, treatments for bubonic plague also involve supportive care -- treating symptoms and complications that occur as a result of plague. For example, if a person develops lung problems, such as difficulty breathing, he or she may be placed on a ventilator, which is a machine that helps the person breathe.

Treatments for Bubonic Plague for Close Contacts

Those individuals closely associated with the patient, particularly in cases with pneumonia, should be identified, traced, and evaluated. These close contacts should be placed under observation or given preventive antibiotic therapy, depending on the degree and timing of contact.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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