An acute bacterial infection caused by Yersinia pestis.
Plague bacillus has historically been a deadly pathogen , inflicting Europeans in epidemics during the 14th , 15th and 16th centuries killing tens of millions. Plague is a zoonotic disease primarily affecting rodents which act as reservoirs.
Transmission of plague between rodents is accomplished by fleas
The rat fleas (Xenopsylla cheopis) acquires Y.pestis from an infected blood meal
Transmission occur by one of the following ways
1.Flea-borne , from infected rodents through the bite of the flea .
2.Direct contact with infected tissues or fluids from handling sick or dead
3.Respitatory droplets from cats and humans with pneumonic type of plague.
In bioterrorism the organism may be delivered by aerosol to cause pneumonic plague or using infected fleas to cause bubonic plague .
Clinical picture in case of the bubonic plague :
Enlagred tender lymph nodes
Rapid diagnosis and treatment is indicated.
Streptomycin and tetracyclines or chloramphenicol are the drugs of choice. Treatment after 15 hours probably does not influence the course of pneumonic plague3.
Prevention and control
Plague vaccine is no longer available in the UK and is rarely indicated.
Suspected cases should be considered highly infectious and should be strictly isolated.
Contacts should be offered prophylaxis.
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A]Health knowledge organization link :
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Plague Fact Sheet, 2005.
Heymann D L, editor, Control of Communicable Disease Manual. 18th ed. American Public Health Association; 2004.
Hawker J, Begg N, Blair I, Reintjes R, Weinberg J. Communicable Disease Control Handbook, Blackwell, 2005.