Plague Home > Yersinia Pestis Bacteria

Yersinia pestis bacteria are responsible for the various types of plague, such as bubonic plague. Transmission occurs most often through the bites of infected fleas or rodents -- symptoms tend to appear one to six days later. Once infection with Yersinia pestis bacteria has been confirmed, the patient is hospitalized, isolated, and treated with antibiotics.

What Are Yersinia Pestis Bacteria?

Yersinia pestis are the bacteria that cause plague. They can infect humans, rodents, and ectoparasites (such as fleas and lice).
 

Plague and Yersinia Pestis Bacteria

The Yersinia pestis bacteria are found mainly in rodents, particularly rats, and in the fleas that feed on them. The most common way for the bacteria to infect another person or animal is through the bite of an infected rodent or flea.
 
(Click Plague and Animals for more information.)
 

Transmission

Transmission of Yersinia pestis bacteria typically occurs in one of three ways:
 
  • Inhaling infected droplets
  • Direct contact with infected tissue or bodily fluids
  • Bites from infected rodent fleas.
     

Types of Plague Caused by Yersinia Pestis Bacteria

An infection with this type of bacteria can cause one of three types of plague:
 
These types may occur separately or in combination, depending on the circumstances.
 
(Click Types of Plague for more information.)
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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