Could You Have the Plague? : Guide to Symptoms

On April 19th the AP Wire picked up a story out of Los Angeles about a woman with the bubonic plague, the first in LA since 1984. She was admitted to a hospital April 13 with a fever, swollen lymph nodes and other symptoms. A blood test confirmed the bacterial disease, and she was given antibiotics.

A day earlier, the tv show “HOUSE” portrayed a woman who presented mysterious symptoms. It was finally determined to be a case of the plague after it was revealed where she got her dog (a gift from her girlfriend).

Interesting coincidence there, but what are the real chances about getting the plague? Well, according to health officials there are an estimated 10-20 Americans that contract the plague each year. They live in mostly rural communities and therefore aren’t as newsworthy as someone in the big city.

The bubonic plague is not contagious. It is, however, able to morph into the pneumonic plague if left untreated. The pneumonic plague is indeed contagious and a pandemic worthy disease. Usually the plague is transmitted to humans from flea bites. These fleas come off any pet that has been exposed to flea ridden rodents that have the disease. Those fleas jump off the rodent onto the pet, unaffecting the pet, and then onto you where you will slowly develop the plague.

Bubonic plague is believed to have been the “Black Death” that killed 25 million people in Europe between 1346 and 1351.

Plague Symptoms and Signs:

Sudden onset of high fever
General discomfort, uneasiness, or ill feeling (malaise)
Muscular pains
Severe headache
Smooth, oval, reddened, painful swellings of swollen lymph glands called buboes in the groin, armpits, neck, or elsewhere in the body. Pain may occur in the area before the swelling; the most common area is in the groin

Severe cough
Frothy, bloody sputum
Difficulty breathing

Extreme illness
Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain
Low blood pressure
Blood clotting problems
Failure of several or all organ systems

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