Symptoms of Plague


General information about symptoms of Plague: The symptom information on this page attempts to provide a list of some possible symptoms of Plague. This symptom information has been gathered from various sources, may not be fully accurate, and may not be the full list of symptoms of Plague. Furthermore, symptoms of Plague may vary on an individual basis for each patient. Only your doctor can provide adequate diagnosis of symptoms and whether they are indeed symptoms of Plague.

List of symptoms of Plague: The list of symptoms mentioned in various sources for Plague includes:

Symptoms of Plague: The typical sign of the most common form of human plague is a swollen and very tender lymph gland, accompanied by pain. The swollen gland is called a "bubo." Bubonic plague should be suspected when a person develops a swollen gland, fever, chills, headache, and extreme exhaustion, and has a history of possible exposure to infected rodents, rabbits, or fleas. A person usually becomes ill with bubonic plague 2 to 6 days after being infected.

When bubonic plague is left untreated, plague bacteria invade the bloodstream. As the plague bacteria multiply in the bloodstream, they spread rapidly throughout the body and cause a severe and often fatal condition. Infection of the lungs with the plague bacterium causes the pneumonic form of plague, a severe respiratory illness. The infected person may experience high fever, chills, cough, and breathing difficulty and may expel bloody sputum. If plague patients are not given specific antibiotic therapy, the disease can progress rapidly to death. About 14% (1 in 7) of all plague cases in the United States are fatal.1


  • Bubonic plague: enlarged, tender lymph nodes, fever, chills and prostration
  • Septicemic plague: fever, chills, prostration, abdominal pain, shock and bleeding into skin and other organs
  • Pneumonic plague: fever, chills, cough and difficulty breathing; rapid shock and death if not treated early

There are three forms of plague. Symptoms of bubonic plague include enlarged, tender lymph nodes, fever, chills and prostration; septicemic plague symptoms include fever, chills, prostration, abdominal pain, shock, and bleeding into skin and other organs; and pneumonic plague symptoms include fever, chills, cough, difficulty breathing, and rapid shock and death if not treated early. 3

More symptoms of Plague: In addition to the above information, to get a full picture of the possible symptoms of this condition and its related conditions, it may be necessary to examine symptoms that may be caused by complications of Plague, underlying causes of Plague, associated conditions for Plague, risk factors for Plague, or other related conditions.

Medical articles on symptoms: These general reference articles may be of interest:

1. excerpt from Plague Diagnosis: DVBID
2. excerpt from Plague Epidemiology: DVBID_1
3. excerpt from Facts About Plague: CDC-OC

Last revision: June 10, 2003

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