Plague Home > Bubonic Plague Info

The bubonic plague is a disease that occurs in humans, rodents, and ectoparasites (fleas and lice). Approximately 10 to 20 people in the United States develop bubonic plague each year from flea or rodent bites. Person-to-person infection is extremely rare -- in fact, the United States has not seen any cases of this type of transmission since 1924.
Bubonic plague is caused by Yersinia pestis bacteria. Symptoms tend to develop within six days as the bacteria multiply within the lymph system. Treatment usually involves antibiotics and supportive care. If left untreated, plague bacteria can multiply in the bloodstream, causing septicemic plague or pneumonic plague. The mortality rate is 50 to 90 percent if not treated; when diagnosed and treated early, the mortality rate is 15 percent.
Because this illness is potentially deadly, people suspected of having it are often hospitalized and placed in isolation even before the diagnosis is confirmed.
(For more info, click Bubonic Plague. This article tells you what you need to know about the incubation period for this condition, how a diagnosis is made, and how many people it affects worldwide.)
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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