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

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From MayoClinic.com 

Screening and diagnosis

Your doctor may immediately suspect plague only if you live in a high-risk region. With the exception of a visible bubo, signs and symptoms often mimic other, more common infectious diseases.

Describe the type and severity of your symptoms to your physician and tell him or her about your recent history, including whether you've been exposed to sick animals or traveled to areas with plague outbreak.

If your doctor suspects plague, he or she may confirm the diagnosis through microscopic examination of fluid extracted from your bubo, bronchi or trachea. Needle aspiration is used to obtain fluid from your bubo. Fluid is extracted from your airways using endoscopy. In this procedure, a thin, flexible tube is inserted through your nose or mouth and down your throat. A suction device is sent down the tube to extract a fluid sample from your airways.

Your doctor may also culture blood drawn from your veins to diagnose plague. Y. pestis bacteria generally are present in your bloodstream only if you have septicemic plague.

You may receive a diagnosis with a simple, new dipstick test if you're living in or visiting a rural area in a developing country. The test recognizes an antigen produced by plague bacteria in blood and bubo fluid, and produces results in 15 minutes. The dipstick test is as effective as lab tests in diagnosing bubonic plague, and offers a valuable early diagnosis option in areas that usually don't have medical laboratories nearby. The dipstick test has not been proved effective in diagnosing septicemic and pneumonic plague, so it may not be useful following a bioterrorist attack.

In a plague outbreak following a bioterrorist event, you might receive a diagnosis through a new rapid antibody test, which quickly identifies the antibodies your immune system produces to fight Y. pestis bacteria. Rapid antibody tests can provide results for multiple samples in less than 30 minutes.


Complications of plague may include:

  • Gangrene of your fingers and toes resulting from clots in the small blood vessels of your extremities

  • Severe shock

  • Sudden, severe lung failure (acute respiratory distress syndrome)

  • Bloodstream infection (septicemia)

  • Inflammation of the membranes and fluid surrounding your brain and spinal cord (meningitis)

  • Death

The overall fatality rate from plague is about 14 percent, or about one in seven cases. Without treatment, mortality rates can be as high as 60 percent for bubonic plague and 100 percent for pneumonic plague.

 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.
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