National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.
- Black Death
- Black Plague
- La Peste
- pestilential fever
- pneumonic plague
- bubonic plague
- septicemic plague
Plague is an acute, severe infectious disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. The bacterium is found in fleas and wild rodents such as rats, squirrels, chipmunks or prairie dogs. Plague is a zoonotic disease, which means it can be transmitted to humans through animals, most often through the bites of fleas or through direct contact with infected animal tissue. The disease is most common in parts of Africa and Asia but it also occurs in some areas of the western United States. Symptoms can include an abrupt onset of chills, fever, and enlarged, painful lymph nodes (buboes). Treatment must start immediately to avoid life-threatening complications. Although plague is extremely rare in the United States, interest in the infection has heightened in recent years because of its potential use as an agent of biological warfare.
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Last Updated: 2/4/2013
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