Basic Summary for Plague


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Main name of condition: Plague
Other names or spellings: Black death, Yersinia pestis


What is Plague?
  Brief description of Plague: Infectious bacterial disease borne by fleas and rats
  Parent types of Plague: Bacterial diseases, Flea-borne diseases, Rodent-borne disease, Diseases contagious from rodents, Diseases contagious from animals
  Types of Plague: Bubonic plague, Septicemic plague, Pneumonic plague
How many people get Plague?
  Incidence (annual) of Plague: 9 annual cases of plague notified in USA 1999 (MMWR 1999)
  Incidence Rate of Plague: approx 1 in 30,222,221 or 0.00% or 9 people in USA [about data]
  Prevalance of Plague: In the U.S., 1 to 40 cases reported annually (avg = 13 cases) by western states, 1971-1995
  • Worldwide, 2861 cases reported by 10 countries to WHO in 1995

    SEQUELAE

    • Rare, consequences of disseminated intravascular coagulation, lung damage
    • Mortality 50-90% if untreated; 15% when diagnosed and treated

    COSTS

    • Not known

    TRANSMISSION

    • Flea-borne, from infected rodents to humans
    • Direct contact with infected tissues or fluids from handling sick or dead animals
    • Respiratory droplets from cats and humans with pneumonic plague

    RESERVOIRS

    • Primarily wild rodents in U.S. (especially rock squirrels, ground squirrels, prairie dogs, other burrowing rodents)
    • Commensal rats may be important elsewhere

    RISK GROUPS

    • In the U.S., persons exposed to rodent fleas, wild rodents, or other susceptible animals in enzootic areas of western states
    • Most cases occur in southwestern states of NM, AZ, CO, and in CA
    • Highest rates in Native Americans, especially Navajos; other risk groups: hunters; veterinarians and pet owners handling infected cats; campers or hikers entering areas with outbreaks of animal plague

    SURVEILLANCE

    • National Notifiable Disease Surveillance System (NNDSS) for animal plague surveillance, for reports of human cases, and laboratory testing of fleas, animal tissues and serum specimens, and serosurveys of carnivores
    • CDC, Fort Collins, is a WHO Collaborating Center for Reference and Research on Plague Control, and reports all human plague cases in the U.S. to WHO

    OPPORTUNITIES

    • Increased self-sufficiency of state and county public health labs
    • Expanded active surveillance through carnivore serosurveys and application of geographic information systems (GIS) to surveillance programs
    • Increased education of public and health professionals
    • Collaborative applied research on plague prevention and control with other federal, state, and local health agencies, including application of GIS to surveillance

    RESEARCH

    • Ecology-based prevention and control strategies
    • Improved diagnostic reagents and methods
    • Development of potential vaccine candidates
    • Risk factor identification using landscape ecology and epidemiology
       

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    This page last reviewed June 22, 2001

    | Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases  |
    National Center for Infectious Diseases |
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention |
    P.
    1 ... Annually, 1­40 cases of plague were reported (average 13 cases) by western states in 1971­1995.2


    Who gets Plague?
      Geography Profile for Plague: In the United States, health care workers report cases of plague even today, most of which are found in the Southwest. 3
    How serious is Plague?
      Prognosis of Plague: About 1 in 7 cases in the USA are fatal
    What causes Plague?
      Cause of Plague: Yersinia pestis bacteria
      Causes of Plague: People usually get plague from being bitten by a rodent flea that is carrying the plague bacterium or by handling an infected animal.4 ... Plague is caused by Yersinia pestis bacillus. 2
      Class of Condition for Plague: bacterial
      Causes of Plague: see causes of Plague
      Risk factors for Plague: see risk factors for Plague
    What are the symptoms of Plague?
      Incubation period for Plague: A person usually becomes ill with bubonic plague 2 to 6 days after being infected.5
      Symptoms of Plague: see symptoms of Plague
    Can anyone else get Plague?
      More information: see contagiousness of Plague
    How is it treated?
      Treatments for Plague: see treatments for Plague
      Prevention of Plague: see prevention of Plague
    Society issues for Plague
      Hospitalization statistics for Plague: The following are statistics from various sources about hospitalizations and Plague:
    • 0% (3) of hospital consultant episodes were for plague in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)
    • 100% of hospital consultant episodes for plague required hospital admission in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)
    • 67% of hospital consultant episodes for plague were for men in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)
    • 33% of hospital consultant episodes for plague were for women in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)
    • 67% of hospital consultant episodes for plague required emergency hospital admission in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)
    • 9 days was the mean length of stay in hospitals for plague in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)
    • 9 days was the median length of stay in hospitals for plague in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)
    • 70 was the mean age of patients hospitalised for plague in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)
    • 33% of hospital consultant episodes for plague occurred in 15-59 year olds in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)
    • 33% of hospital consultant episodes for plague occurred in people over 75 in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)
    • 33% of hospital consultant episodes for plague were single day episodes in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)
    • 0% (18) of hospital bed days were for plague in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)


    Footnotes:
    1. excerpt from Plague Epidemiology: DVBID_1
    2. excerpt from Facts About Plague: CDC-OC
    3. excerpt from Microbes in Sickness and in Health - Publications, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: NIAID
    4. excerpt from CDC Plague Home Page: DVBID
    5. excerpt from Plague Diagnosis: DVBID

    Last revision: June 10, 2003

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