Plague when you hear the word you think of the black plague that occurred in Europe hundreds of years ago. The truth is that plague still exists in the U.S. as well as other parts of the world. In California, we hear of it being found on ground squirrels almost every year. They regularly shut down one campground or another because of it.
Plague did not appear in the U.S. until about 1900, when it came over on rats from Asia. Plague affects 10 to 20 people a year in this country. Because of our good hygiene habits and sanitation, we have not had a major outbreak since 1924. The problem is that the disease is always present in various parts of the west and southwestern United States.
After TEOTWAWKI who knows, as sanitation and medical help disappears it could reoccur with a vengeance.
Plague comes in three forms depending on how it infects the body. Bubonic plague is the most common, Septicemic plague and Pneumonic plague are not as common.
The one we will discuss the most is Bubonic plague. It circulates mainly in fleas on small rodents such as squirrels. Without treatment, the bubonic plague kills about two thirds of infected humans within 4 days of onset.
The term bubonic plague refers to the swollen lymph nodes known as buboes. They occur in the armpit and groin areas of persons suffering from bubonic plague. Bubonic plague refers specifically to an infection that enters through the skin and travels through the lymphatics, as is often seen in flea-borne infections.
Several classes of antibiotics are effective in treating bubonic plague. These include streptomycin and gentamicin, tetracyclines (especially doxycycline), and ciprofloxacin. Mortality associated with treated cases of bubonic plague is about 1–15%, compared to a mortality of 40–60% in untreated cases. Antibiotics should be administered within 24 hours of the first symptoms. Other treatments include oxygen, intravenous fluids, and respiratory support. Anyone who has been in contact with an infected person should be given prophylactic antibiotics. It is reported that using streptomycin has been very successful against the bubonic plague if given within 12 hours of infection.
- Buboes situated in the groin, armpit or neck
- About the size of a chicken egg
- Tender and warm to the touch
- Other signs and symptoms may include:
- Sudden onset of fever and chills
- Fatigue or malaise
- Muscle aches
- Septicemic plague
Septicemic plague occurs when plague bacteria multiply in your bloodstream. Signs and symptoms include:
- Fever and chills
- Abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting
- Bleeding from your mouth, nose or rectum, or under your skin
- Blackening and death of tissue (gangrene) in your extremities, most commonly your fingers, toes and nose
- Pneumonic plague
Pneumonic plague affects the lungs. It’s the least common variety of plague but the most dangerous, because it can be spread from person to person via cough droplets. Signs and symptoms can begin within a few hours after infection, and may include:
- Cough, with bloody sputum
- Difficulty breathing
- High fever
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pneumonic plague progresses rapidly and may cause respiratory failure and shock within two days of infection. If antibiotic treatment isn’t initiated within a day after signs and symptoms first appear, the infection is likely to be fatal.
As you can see, plague could reoccur after a major disaster that disrupts our health care and sanitation. Whenever you dress small game in infected areas, you have to be careful to avoid fleas if possible. This is also another good reason to stock antibiotics.
Remember I am not a Doctor and do not claim any special medical knowledge. If this concerns you, do additional research or talk to a medical professional to get more information.