Plague Home > Plague Prevention

Plague prevention measures include eliminating food and shelter for rodents in and around homes, using insecticides to kill fleas during wild animal plague outbreaks, and treating pets for fleas weekly. Antibiotics are often recommended in the event of close exposure to a person or pet with suspected pneumonic plague. There is no longer a vaccine that is commercially available in the United States that can be used for plague prevention.

An Introduction to Plague Prevention

Plague will probably continue to exist in its many localized geographic areas around the world, and plague outbreaks in wild rodent hosts will likely continue to occur. Attempts to eliminate wild rodent plague are costly and futile; therefore, plague prevention is directed toward reducing the threat of infection in humans in high-risk areas through three techniques:
  • Public health education
  • Environmental management
  • Preventive drug therapy.

Plague Prevention Through Public Education

In regions, such as the American West, where plague bacteria (Yersinia pestis) is widespread in wild rodents, the greatest threat is to people living, working, or playing in areas where the infection is active. Public health education of citizens and the medical community should include information on the following plague prevention measures:
  • Eliminating food and shelter for rodents in and around homes, work places, and recreation areas by making buildings rodent-proof. Also, remove brush, rock piles, junk, and food sources (such as pet food) from properties.
  • Surveillance for plague activity in rodent populations by public health workers or citizens reporting rodents found sick or dead to local health departments.
  • Use of appropriate and licensed insecticides to kill fleas during wild animal plague outbreaks to reduce the risk to humans.
  • Treatment of pets (dogs and cats) for flea control once a week.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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