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dreddyclinic.com - Plague - Yersinia pestis
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Plague - Yersinia pestis

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INFECTIOUS DISEASE

Bacterial

From MayoClinic.com 

Causes

Plague has afflicted humans throughout history. The Bible describes an outbreak of the disease among the Philistines in 1320 B.C. The Black Death pandemic in the 14th century lasted 130 years and killed one-third of Europe's population. The most recent plague pandemic began in China in the late 1800s and, due to booming international trade on ships with high rat populations, spread quickly throughout the world, eventually causing more than 12 million deaths in India and China alone.

People living during early pandemics believed the disease was a punishment from the gods or an unlucky confluence of astrological or supernatural elements. Despite not understanding the cause of the disease, soldiers knew how to use the disease against their enemies. In Europe in 1346, the invading Mongol army catapulted plague-riddled cadavers into their enemy's city.

The cause of plague wasn't known until almost the 20th century. Common wisdom in many areas affected by plague had long held that people should avoid handling dead rats — and even should run away from them. In 1898, French doctor Paul-Louis Simond put this theory to scientific test and confirmed the transmission process from infected rat fleas to new hosts. Soon afterward, armies began to use infected fleas as ammunition in germ warfare.

In World War II, the Japanese army released plague-carrying fleas over part of China, causing outbreaks of the disease among the people. After World War II, both the United States and former Soviet Union pursued biological weapons programs that developed means of exposing large populations to plague bacteria. Today, plague is one of the most feared potential agents of bioterrorism, alongside anthrax, smallpox, botulism, tularemia and nerve gases.

Risk factors

Plague outbreaks are most common in rural areas and in urban conditions characterized by overcrowding, poor sanitation and a high rat population. Outbreaks can happen at any time of year.

Animals that may be infected and pose a transmission risk to humans include wild rabbits and domestic cats that have contact with wild rodents. The disease usually spreads through fleabites, but you can also contract plague after being exposed to an infected, coughing animal or through a break in your skin after handling an animal with plague.

Groups at increased risk include veterinarians, cat owners, hunters, campers and hikers in areas with recent plague outbreaks among animals.

Plague-infected fleas usually transmit the disease just among rodents. You can be infected when fleas jump from dead rodents to humans, when you handle a plague-infected animal.

When to seek medical advice

Call your doctor if you or someone close to you develops symptoms of plague within a week of any of the following:

  • Being exposed to a sick or dead animal

  • Being bitten by a flea or by an unknown insect

  • Spending time in an area with a known, recent plague outbreak or with a large number of dead or dying animals

  • Having close contact — within 3 feet — with a person or animal with pneumonic plague

  • Traveling to a high-risk region another country with high plague rates, including Brazil, the Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Myanmar, Peru and Vietnam

 

Plague > 1 > 2 > 3 > 4

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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
In no event will The DrEddyClinic.com be liable for any decision made or action taken in reliance upon the information provided through this web site.

 


 



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