Early treatment of pneumonic plague is essential. If the doctor suspects pneumonic plague, treatment will be started even before the results of lab tests return. To reduce the chance of death, antibiotics must be given within 24 hours of the first symptoms of pneumonic plague. Streptomycin, gentamicin, the tetracyclines, and chloramphenicol are all effective against pneumonic plague.
Antibiotic treatment for seven days should protect people who have had direct, close contact with infected patients. Wearing a close-fitting surgical mask may also protect against infection.
A plague vaccine is not currently available for use in the United States.