Plague causes manifestations symptoms and treatment

Plague – causes, manifestations, symptoms and treatmentPlague is among the most dangerous infectious diseases. Doctors distinguish between four different forms of the disease.

Disease pattern

One of the most contagious and dangerous infectious diseases is the plague (pestis). It is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, of which there are several variants. In most cases, the disease is transmitted by rat fleas infected with yersinia.

Occasionally, the pester pathogens can also be transmitted by infected rodents. Thus rodents like

which live in symbiosis with fleas or ticks, the most important reservoir of Yersinia. However, if a rodent infestation occurs, there is a possibility that the contaminated fleas may spread to other hosts, such as domestic rats, resulting in a plague epidemic.


Hardly any other disease has caused such fear and terror among people as the plague, which is also Black Death was called. This is how it happened in the 14. In the 19th century, a plague epidemic in Europe led to about 25 million deaths.

The last great plague epidemic on the European continent, which also had devastating consequences, took place in 17. Century instead of. The plague pathogen Yersinia pestis was named after its discoverer, the Swiss bacteriologist Alexandre Yersin (1863-1943).


In modern times the plague still occurs in

– Central and East Africa and Central America as well as – in Asian countries such as India, China and the Vietnam

at. The disease is most common in Africa. The risk of epidemics is particularly high in large cities, where many people live in confined spaces and under poor hygienic conditions.

However, nowadays there are no longer any major epidemics like in the Middle Ages. Since the plague is a quarantine disease, sick people are isolated in special infectious wards.

Manifestations of the plague

In medicine, a distinction is made between four different manifestations of the plague. These are

– the bubonic plague – the plague sepsis – the pneumonic plague and – the abortive plague.

The most common forms are pneumonic plague and bubonic plague. It is not uncommon for bubonic plague to develop into plague sepsis, which in turn results in pneumonic plague.

A very rare form of plague is plague meningitis. This leads to an infestation of the meninges with plague pathogens. Special forms of plague include plague pharingitis and rash plague.

Abortive plague is the mildest form of plague. It rarely occurs. Only occurs in certain regions.


The rod-shaped bacterium Yersina pestis is responsible for the plague. The dangerous pathogen is transmitted in most cases through parasite stings. These parasites live on the body surface of rodents found in the wild.

The rat plague is considered to be the precursor of plague epidemics in humans. Infect parasites such as fleas in the rats. Once the rat has died of the plague, the rat flea looks for a new host, which may be a human being, and infects him or her when it bites him or her.

But it is just as possible for plague to be transmitted through direct contact with a sick animal or contaminated objects. In pneumonic plague, transmission can also occur through droplet infection from person to person.

If plague bacteria enter the body's bloodstream in sufficient numbers after infection, this results in a strong concentration of the pathogens. This leads to blood poisoning (sepsis) in the further course of the disease. The natural death of the Yersinia is responsible for the sepsis.

In the process of death, the dangerous germs release a toxic secretion directly into the bloodstream. If the liver and kidneys undertake an attempt to cleanse the organism of the toxins, this can lead to necrosis. Eventually, the patient dies of toxic shock.

Plague sepsis

In most cases, plague sepsis is a complication of bubonic plague or pneumonic plague. However, it is also possible that it occurs primarily.

Plague sepsis is caused by the Yersinia bacteria, which enters the bloodstream and infects organs such as the liver and spleen

– the heart – the liver – the lungs – the brain – the meninges or – the kidneys

affect. A possible reason for the spread of the plague pathogens can be the bursting of plague bumps inwards.


The course of the plague depends on which manifestation occurs and how quickly treatment begins. Without treatment, the prognosis is often negative.

Plague sepsis is particularly deadly. There are also mild forms of the plague, which run only weakly, like the abortive plague.

However, with prompt treatment with antibiotics, the prognosis is usually very good. If patients survive the plague, they develop a long-lasting immunity to the pathogen.


In the case of plague, a distinction is made between different manifestations, which are manifested by different symptoms. These are mainly the three main forms bubonic plague, which occurs most frequently, pneumonic plague, which is rather rare, and plague sepsis.

Other forms of plague are

– plague laryngitis – plague meningitis and – skin plague.

The form of plague depends on the point of entry and the way it spreads in the organism.

Bubonic plague

With a share of around 80 percent, bubonic plague, also known as bubonic plague, is the most common form of the plague. At the beginning of the disease there are symptoms such as chills and high fever, which can reach 41 degrees Celsius. In addition, the lymph nodes at the site of the parasite infection swell and bleed inward.

This causes a a blue-blackish glow on the skin. As the disease progresses, the sufferers also suffer from impaired consciousness.

When touching the plague bumps strong prere pain occurs. The bumps are up to 10 centimeters in diameter and form primarily on the groin, armpits, and neck. In some cases, the affected lymph nodes may become ulcerated and decayed.

In addition, there is a risk that bubonic plague will develop into plague sepsis (blood poisoning). In 50 percent of those who contract the disease, bubonic plague leads to death without timely medical treatment.

Pneumonic plague

Pneumonic plague occurs when the bacteria are inhaled through the air. Already after a few hours symptoms like

In the further course occur

on, which is highly infectious. Eventually, severe pneumonia occurs. If pneumonic plague is not treated, it is almost always fatal.

Plague sepsis

Plague sepsis is considered to be Complication of bubonic plague and pneumonic plague. In some cases, however, it occurs primarily. Since the plague pathogens enter the bloodstream, they can infect the organs.

The typical symptoms of plague sepsis include

– a rapid pulse – high fever – confusion and – lethargy.

Furthermore, there is

– to gastrointestinal complaints – to severe skin changes such as skin necrosis or hemorrhages – to swelling of the liver and spleen, and – to bleeding.

There is also a risk of intestinal obstruction or kidney failure. Meningitis, a form of inflammation of the brain, is also possible. Almost always, plague sepsis without treatment leads to death.


This form of plague is characterized by

– fever – headache – a dry throat and – swelling of the cervical lymph nodes.

Abortive plague

The abortive plague is mostly caused by flea bites. In this case, the plague pathogens enter the body.

However, the symptoms are much milder than those of the other three forms of plague. Thus, only mild fever occurs in the affected persons. Somewhat swollen lymph nodes on.

After about a week, the symptoms disappear again by themselves. After the infection has been overcome, antibodies against all plague pathogens are produced by the organism, so that a lasting immunity against all forms of plague exists.


The plague is diagnosed by the detection of the pathogens, which are taken from the plague sores, the sputum (sputum) or the blood. In advanced stages, antibodies against the plague pathogen can also be detected. One problem is that the symptoms of bubonic and pneumonic plague resemble influenza at the onset of the disease, so there is a risk of misdiagnosis.


To treat the plague, antibiotics are used. This includes in particular

– Doxycycline – Streptomycin – Gentamicin and – Tetracycline.

If the pathogens have also affected the central nervous system, chloramphecinol is used.

Penicillin, on the other hand, is not considered suitable because it does not control plague pathogens. Of paramount importance for the success of therapy is a rapid start of treatment to avoid complications. If antibiotic treatment is given in time, the chances of a complete cure are good.


Plague is a disease that is highly contagious. For this reason, preventive measures are particularly important. Since plague is one of the quarantine diseases, patients must be isolated from other people for the duration of the disease. In addition, people who have had contact with the plague patient are quarantined for six days.

If cases of plague occur, at-risk groups, which primarily include hospital employees, are advised to preventive use of antibiotics such as doxycycline or ciprofloxacin recommended. Before contracting pneumonic plague Mouthguard to protect to a certain extent.

Vaccination against the plague is possible in principle. However, since strong side effects occur in the process, it is no longer used today.

Vaccination is also not necessary for normal tourists. However, anyone traveling to regions at risk should be Avoid visiting slums.

An important preventive measure against plague is the control of rats and fleas in the areas where the pathogens are spreading. In addition, reporting should be done when there are strikingly high numbers of rodent deaths.

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