The other term is plague. An infectious disease of animals (rodents and their fleas) and
humans, due to a bacteria called Yersinia pestis. Also called Black Death and Black
The bubonic plague is transmitted to humans from infected rats by the oriental rat flea.
It is named for the characteristic feature of bubones (painfully enlarged lymph nodes)
in the groin, armpits, neck, and elsewhere. Other symptoms of bubonic plague include
headache, fever, chills, and weakness. Bubonic plague can lead to gangrene (tissue
death) of the fingers, toes, and nose.
Pneumonic plague: Infection of the lungs by Yersina pestis. The first signs of the
pneumonic plague are fever, headache, weakness, and cough productive of bloody or
watery sputum. The pneumonia progresses over 2 to 4 days and may cause septic
shock and, without early treatment, death. Person-to-person transmission of
pneumonic plague occurs through respiratory droplets, which can only infect those who
have face-to-face contact with the person who is ill. Early treatment of pneumonic
plague is essential. Several antibiotics are effective, including streptomycin,
tetracycline, and chloramphenicol. There is no vaccine against plague but prophylactic
antibiotic treatment for 7 days will protect persons who have had face-to-face contact
with infected patients. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has
classified Yersina pestis as a high-priority (Category A) bioterrorism agent.