Plague Home > Symptoms of the Plague

There are different symptoms of the plague for each of the three types: bubonic, septicemic, and pneumonic. However, common symptoms include fever, cough, and headaches. In most cases, symptoms tend to develop within one to six days of being infected with the bacteria that causes plague. If signs and symptoms are not recognized and treated quickly, death can occur.

An Introduction to Plague Symptoms

When a person becomes infected with the bacteria that cause plague (Yersinia pestis), the bacteria begin to multiply. Symptoms of the plague can occur within one to six days of being infected. The period between becoming infected and the start of symptoms is called the plague incubation period. If they are not treated quickly, symptoms can rapidly worsen, and death may occur.
 
There are three types of plague:
 
There are different symptoms for each plague type. Furthermore, it is possible for a person to have symptoms of only one type; it is also possible for a person to experience symptoms from each of the types. For example, a person may first develop bubonic plague symptoms, followed several days later by symptoms of septicemic plague, then symptoms of pneumonic plague.
 

Symptoms of Bubonic Plague

Symptoms of bubonic plague can include:
 
  • Headache
  • Buboes (tender, enlarged lymph nodes under the armpits or in the neck or groin, ranging in size from 1 to 10 cm., and found in 70 percent of people)
  • Abdominal (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 symptoms of the plague.)
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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