Plague: Symptoms and Treatment

Plague is an acute infectious disease, which belongs to especially dangerous infections and is characterized by endemicity. As the pathology progresses, lymph nodes, skin, and severe intoxication syndrome are affected. The centers of plague are present on all continents, except for Antarctica and Australia. The vector of the infection is black rats.

This fact was the reason that people began to call the disease a black death or black disease. It is worth noting that over 300 years of invasion in European countries, the plague epidemics have claimed more than 25 million human lives. Treatment was previously completely ineffective, so the death rate was very high — 100%. Black disease has neither age, nor gender differences.


Susceptibility to black disease is high. In addition to territorial focal zones, specialists identify narrow synanthropic areas. These include:

  • port fires;
  • Urban
  • ship.

Source of infectious agents — rodents. Spread its fleas. It is worth noting that they can be infectious up to 1 year. The causative agent of the plague penetrates into the body of the flea and begins to actively multiply in the digestive tube. Therefore, in the anterior part of the body of the parasite, a specific cork is formed, containing a large number of plague microorganisms.

Infection of a rat or other rodent occurs as follows:

  1. the parasite bites the rat, then the bacteria are washed out of the formed plague block
  2. penetrating into the circulatory system of the rodent, the causative agent spreads very quickly throughout the body.

Path of infection

According to the definition of the National Guidelines for Infectious Diseases, the plague is a zoonotic disease. This indicates that the infectious agent is transmitted to the person from the infected animal. But this definition is not entirely correct. Most scientists attribute the disease to zooanthroponous diseases — a plague rod can be transmitted both from animals and from an infected person (airborne in the pulmonary form of the disease). The carrier of the causative agent of black disease is a black rat. It can easily carry it over long distances, while infecting fleas and other rodents.

Transmission paths:

  • Transmissible
  • contact with sweat, blood, urine of an infected person
  • when contacting an infected animal through micro-trauma on the skin
  • contact-home transmission path
  • airborne. Thus, the pulmonary form of the black disease develops;
  • eating food contaminated with pathogenic microorganisms


Skin form. A skin blister is formed on the skin that is filled with serous exudate. With palpation of education, his soreness is noted. As the pathology progresses, the bubble opens independently and an ulcer having a black bottom is formed in its place.

Bubonic plague. A person has lymph node enlargement. It can increase as one node, and several at once. Dimensions can vary from a few 3 cm to 10 cm. When visual inspection, hyperemia of the node is noted. When you feel the knot painful. On day 4 from the onset of progression of the bubonic plague, the bubble softens, and at 10 spontaneously opens. The patient’s death can occur between 4 and 10 days of incidence.

Pulmonary plague. This type of clinic is considered the most dangerous of all known. Symptoms of the plague are very vivid, but the pulmonary clinic also joins.

The causative agent of the disease affects the walls of the alveoli first. Against this background, a strong dry cough appears in the person, which becomes wet after a while. Initially, the sputum is clear and foamy, but as the pathology progresses, it becomes bloody. In the sputum, a high concentration of pathogenic microorganisms is observed, which provokes the development of black disease. At the same time they are easily spread by airborne droplets. Death of the patient occurs on day 6 after infection.

Septic plague. The patient’s condition deteriorates very quickly. Periods of temporary stabilization are not observed. Almost immediately there are hemorrhages on the skin and mucous membranes. As the disease progresses, internal bleeding occurs. Usually, the patient dies precisely because of them.


The incubation period of the bubonic plague or its other form lasts from a couple of hours to 2 weeks — from the moment the pathogenic microorganism enters the body prior to the appearance of the first symptoms. Some of the pathogens that are transmitted to a person remain on its skin or mucous membranes (depending on the route of transmission), but most of it rapidly moves to the lymph nodes. At this point, a clinical picture of a black disease begins to appear.

The first signs of a pulmonary or bubonic plague are always expressed very clearly:

  1. the fever accompanied by a strong chill appears abruptly
  2. the temperature rises to critical values ​​and holds in this position until the patient recovers or dies;
  3. body aches
  4. weakness;
  5. nausea;
  6. strong thirst;
  7. When a pulmonary form of pathology appears bloody cough, as well as vomiting with blood
  8. A «plague mask» is a special facial expression of a patient who is sick with bubonic plague or another kind of ailment. Mimicry expresses severe fright or suffering, dark circles appear under the eyes. If you perform a visual examination of the oral cavity, it can be noted that the patient’s tongue is covered with a thick white coating. This symptom of the disease clinicians call «chalky tongue.»

Common Symptoms:

  • pallor and cyanosis of the limbs;
  • blood pressure reduction
  • the pulse is weak;
  • On the site of penetration into the body of the pathogen, the appearance of a pathological stain is noted. This process is characterized by its gradualness. First, a rash appears on the skin, later it passes into a vial that is filled with exudate inside;
  • enlarged lymph nodes — it is in them that the pathogen multiplies actively
  • blood coagulability is reduced.


  1. serological method;
  2. microscopic method;
  3. bacteriological method
  4. X-ray of the lymph nodes.


Treatment of the plague is conducted strictly in a stationary environment. For the patient, the box in the infectious hospital is specially singled out, out of which direct outflow of air is excluded. The choice of medications depends on the form of the ailment that affected the patient. The scheme of treatment and dosage is developed only by the doctor, based on the results of tests and the features of the patient’s illness. The forecast of treatment directly depends on its timeliness.

The treatment plan includes:

  • taking antibiotics that are detrimental to the bacterium
  • ointment dressings with a cutaneous form of the disease;
  • pathological buboes are opened surgically
  • antipyretic drugs
  • anti-inflammatory;
  • introduction of detoxification solutions into the vein;
  • the introduction of steroid hormones
  • taking drugs that stimulate the work of the heart muscle
  • Support for the full operation of the lungs, liver and kidneys is carried out by ventilators, «artificial kidney» and the like.


Prevention of the disease can be of two types:

  1. Specific, which includes the use of antibiotics
  2. Emergency. It is based on the introduction of a special vaccine. It is worth noting. That this method is not only many people consider effective, since the immunity against the disease is short, but the vaccine is very expensive. Also, to date, there is no evidence that it is the vaccine that helps to avoid becoming a dangerous disease.

A person must observe precaution based on how the plague wand is transmitted. For example, to minimize contact with animals, as well as completely exclude contact with a person who may be a plague patient.