What is plague?
Plague is a disease that affects animals and humans. It is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis which is found in rodents and their fleas. Plague is found in many areas of the world. It is not common in the United States.
There are three forms of plague:
1. Bubonic (large swollen lymph nodes)
2. Pneumonic (lungs)
3. Septicemic (blood)
How can someone come into contact with plague?
Plague can be spread from person to person.
Plague as a weapon: As a weapon, the plague bacteria can be aerosolized and released into the air. Scattering infected fleas into the air is another way plague can be used as a weapon.
Please note: Just because you come into contact with plague, or a person sick from plague, does not mean you will get sick from it.
What happens if someone gets sick from plague?
How likely is someone to die from plague?
About 14 percent (1 in 7) of all plague cases in the United States are deadly.
What is the treatment for plague?
Treatment is different for a person who comes into contact with plague, but is not yet displaying symptoms. Early treatment of plague is important.
People who are sick from plague need to be isolated. Wearing a close-fitting surgical mask over the nose and mouth also protects against spreading the infection.
Is there a vaccine for plague?
No, a plague vaccine is not currently available for use in the United States.
What should be done if someone comes into contact with plague?
If you think that you or someone you know may have come into contact with plague bacteria, contact the local county health department right away. (Visit http://www.idph.state.il.us/local/alpha.htm for a listing of all county health departments in Illinois or check your local phone book.)
If you or someone you know is showing symptoms of plague, call your health care provider or the Illinois Poison Center right away. The toll-free number for the poison center is 1-800-222-1222.
Where can one get more information about plague?
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Illinois Department of Public Health
Illinois Poison Center