Plague is a class of dangerous, life-threatening and infectious disease mainly caused by the gram-negative, rod-shaped coccobacillus called Yersinia pestis. This bacterium is mainly found in animals like rodents or rats and then it is transmitted through the insects that feed on the blood of these animals. This disease is called by several names: Black Plague – as the black rats are the carrier of this dangerous disease.

What is the Plague?

It is an old infectious disease that prevailed from medieval times in the 13th century that took millions of lives in Europe. Hence It got the name as ‘Black Death’.

Plague disease is a deadly contagious disease which spreads from person to person through the air or by any other means of contact. This disease is still in existence in some of the countries like South America, Africa, and many other countries.

The above figure shows a clear picture of how the plague disease transmits from the bacteria present in the rodent to human beings.

Types of Plague

There are three kinds of Plague disease:

  • Bubonic plague disease – It an infection in the lymph nodes of the body. The lymph nodes swell and cause serious pain and it is transmitted through the fleas that contain the bacteria.
  • Pneumonic plague disease – It is a contagious disease that causes infection in the lungs. Pneumonic plague disease is mainly transmitted from one person to another. In this condition, the patient develops several disorders such as chest pain, cough, cold, etc.
  • Septicemic plague disease – It is the infection of the blood that leads to Septicemic plague. This is a condition where the bacteria, almost kills the cells of the blood in the human body causing death.

Causes of Plague

Plague is caused by various means of contacts resulting in widespread of the disease.

  • It is caused by means of sneezing.
  • Consumption of contaminated foods or water.
  • By touching the soil or any surface that is contaminated.
  • It is even caused by direct physical contact with the infected person.
  • Bite from the insects which have previously fed on infected animals like a rat, squirrel, rodents, etc.

Symptoms of Plague

The signs and symptoms of Plague differ with the types and days of infection.

Listed below are the few serious symptoms of Plague.

  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Seizures
  • Diarrhoea
  • General weakness
  • Vomiting sensation
  • Frequent headaches
  • Breathing problems
  • Swelling in the joints
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Pain in the abdomen region
  • Severe cough with pain in the chest region.

Diagnosis of Plague

To detect the presence of bacteria in the blood cell, a general fluid test is carried on.

  • Blood test
  • Bronchoscopy
  • Fluid test from the swollen lymph nodes.

Treatment for the Plague

As mentioned earlier, the plague is a life-threatening infection, which requires urgent care and treatment. The basic treatments for this disease require effective use of antibiotics regularly as this is a deadly kind of disease and good precautionary measures need to be applied to stop the spreading of this disease.

Important Questions on Plague

  • What are the antibiotics used to treat plague?

There are various antibiotics which are effective in treating plague. Aminoglycosides, streptomycin, gentamicin, tetracyclines, doxycycline, fluoroquinolone and ciprofloxacin are few of them.

  • What is Bronchoscopy?

A bronchoscopy is a small clinical procedure, which is mainly used to detect the presence of bacteria and other pathogens inside of the lungs airways, including the bronchi, by inserting the thin tube containing a light and camera either through the nose or mouth.

  • How to prevent a deadly disease plague?

As per the saying, Prevention is better than cure. There are certain safety measures which need be followed to prevent the plague infections:

  1. Vaccinate newborn babies with the plague vaccine.
  2. Keep your surroundings clean to reduce the rodent around your home.
  3. Avoid contact with the pathogens by regular use of gloves and face mask.
  4. Try to block the holes or gaps near your home to avoid the entry of mice and rats
  5. Regular use of insect repellents, wearing full clothes covering the skin to prevent flea bites.
  • What are the symptoms of Pneumonic plague?

Pneumonic plague is the serious form of the plague, which spreads from person to person and has a mortality rate close to 100%. The sign and symptoms of Pneumonic plague include- Fever, cough, shortness of breath, headache and chest pain.

  • What is Black death?

According to recorded history, black death took place during the early 19th century in Europe. The bubonic plague is called as one of the worst catastrophes in human history, which killed 75 to 200 millions of people. Almost one-third of the continent’s population was destroyed by the dangerous plague disease.

Stay tuned with BYJU’S to learn more about the Plague, its types, causes, signs or symptoms of the plague, available treatments and other related topics @ BYJU’S Biology.

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